Throwing down the gauntlet

by Ben Ayuko

{image by the Guardian}


The Euro 2024 got underway on Friday, and it’s been a brilliant first weekend. A lot of goals scored. Players reveling in the pressure that comes with representing your country.

Germany opened the tournament in style in front of their home crowd with an entertaining 5-1 demolition of 10-man Scotland. They look like a team reborn under their new coach Julian Nagelsmann and such a result may be an omen of things to come and a sign that other teams should be wary of their ambition to go all the way to the final.

Spain overcome some difficult spells in their game against Croatia to take all 3 points in what turned into a comfortable 3-0 victory. The young squad they have seems to have gelled together really well under their new captain Alvaro Morata (who opened the scoring) and such as result against strong opposition shows a sign of intent that we should watch out for further along into the tournament.

Italy, the current holders, look to make amends for a poor World Cup campaign in Qatar and they started that off with a 2-1 victory against Albania thanks to a scorcher of a finish from outside the box by Nicolo Barella (the goal of the tournament, so far). It is yet unclear whether or not Italy can defend their title, but that opening day victory certainly holds them in good stead.

England, finalists in the previous Euro tournament, survived a second half onslaught from Serbia as they managed to see out a 1-0 victory, courtesy of a goal by Jude Bellingham. It was far from a convincing performance, but they got the job done and have set themselves up in the best way for the rest of the tournament.

Netherlands had to dig deep and be patient in order to get passed an inspired Poland side that seemed intent on ruining their party. It took a goal by substitute Wout Weghorst in the 83rd minute to give them the lead for the first time in the match as they then saw the game out at 2-1. Having got to the World Cup quarter finals, there is some curiosity over what this team can do in this tournament. They are by no means the favourites, but don’t let that fool you into thinking that they couldn’t just go out and win the whole thing. They are definitely one to watch.

There are still some top teams left to play, e.g. France, Portugal, Belgium, etc., but if they play like we know they can, this might turn out to be one of the most competitive Euro tournaments we have ever seen.

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