UEFA 2020 Euro Championship – Day 5
Group D: Scotland (0) 0 – 2 (1) Czech Republic
Goal-scorers: Schick (42′, 52’)
Hampden Park, Glasgow
This was a game I would have attended if COVID hadn’t intervened. With a reduced capacity for 2021, UEFA held a ballot and I lost out unfortunately. So it was a day at work and meetings in Manchester. I had my laptop so thought great I’ll be able to watch the game on the way back to Leeds. Of course I had forgotten how poor the Wi-Fi can be as the train has to pass through various tunnels and the area around Marsden Moor. Subsequently it was nigh on impossible to make out much of the game – I resigned myself to the fact I was simply not meant to watch this fixture. By the time I reached home it was just in time to watch the last thirteen minutes, so had to settle for catching up on the highlights. It seems that there were chances on both sides, and the Czechs were simply more clinical. Scoring just before half-time is always a significant time for a side to take the lead and Schick was impressive to get behind his markers and plant his header away from the five of Marshall. If that was quality then his second seven minutes after the break will be one of the goals of the tournament, catching Marshall off his line from just inside the Scotland half. Attention in this group moves to Friday and the England v Scotland battle and an intriguing contest between the Czechs and the Croats.
Group E: Poland (0) 1 – 2 (1) Slovakia
Goal-scorers: Poland – Linetty (46′). Slovakia – Szczesny (18’og), Skriniar (69′)
Krestovsky Stadium, Saint Petersburg
Can this be considered the first shock result of the tournament? Poland ranked 21st in the FIFA list with Slovakia down in 36th position. Yes, I suppose we can. Slovakia were dangerous from the off and it was no surprise when they went ahead, although there was a touch of fortune about their goal on eighteen minutes. Robert Mak ran at the Polish defence and fired low, Wojciech Szczesny in goal got down to his right and pushed the ball onto the post, but it ricocheted off the prone ‘keeper and into the net. Slovakia held the advantage into the break and could have been further ahead. That lead was short-lived as within a minute of the restart Poland were level with a well worked move, and although Linetty didn’t connect cleanly it still found its way in. The game swung Slovakia’s way just after the hour mark after Krychowiak collected a second yellow card for a pretty soft foul leaving the Poles down to ten-men. Within seven minutes Slovakia went ahead, from a corner it was played to Skriniar close to the penalty spot and his sweetly struck finish beat Szczesny nestling in the bottom right corner. A famous victory for Slovakia which put them top of the group.
Group E: Spain (0) 0 – 0 (0) Sweden
La Cartuja, Seville
Yes a game that finished 0-0 but not a boring encounter by any means. The stats showed that Spain had 85% possession and had 17 shots to Sweden’s 4. Morata and Olmo had the best chances for Spain which were wasted, but credit must also go to Robin Olsen in the Swedes goal who made some smart saves. As so often in games like this where one side has so little of the ball, they are always dangerous on the break with Alexander Isak unlucky after a charging run into the box that saw his shot deflect off Spanish defender Marcos Llorente onto the post and into the arms of a relieved Unai Simon in the Spanish goal. Isak also created Sweden’s best second-half opportunity as he created a chance for Marcus Berg who wastefully fired wide. Spain will see it as two points dropped and will be desperate to beat Poland in their next game.
The first round of group matches concludes today with two games from Group F, with Hungary hosting current European champions at the Puskas Arena in Budapest and Germany welcoming France to the Allianz Arena in Munich.
Hungary and Portugal met in the group stage of the Finals in 2016. It was the last round of fixtures and turned out to be quite a game. Hungary were ahead three time in the game through Zoltan Gera, and a brace from Balazs Dzsudzsak, but each time were pegged back with goals from Nani and two from Ronaldo to ensure a 3-3 draw. It proved to be a vital point for Portugal as it enabled them to qualify to the knockout phase as one of the best third placed sides and of course went on to lift the trophy. This could be a cagey encounter and may well end as a draw.
France and Germany conclude Tuesday’s action in Munich, with their last meeting at Euro 2016 in the Semi-Finals, where Antoine Griezmann got a double to send the hosts through to the Final. Is there discount in the French camp after the recent Giroud and Mbappe spat in public, and will it impact Les Bleus performance? It’ll be a case of wait and see. Whilst this game doesn’t have the friction of a Germany v Netherland encounter, there is bound to be a bit of an edge between these two and for fans of a certain age, Harald Schumacher’s appalling foul (well assault) on Patrick Battiston at the 1982 World Cup which left the Frenchman without two teeth and three cracked ribs necessitating his requiring oxygen on the pitch, is not something easily forgotten. Don’t be surprised if this game ends as the second draw of the day.