Euro 2016: Matchday 1 in Group C

Cormac O'DonnellEuropean ChampionshipLeave a Comment

Matchday 1 in Group C features world champions Germany, minnows Northern Ireland, as well as previous hosts Poland and Ukraine.


Milik slots home to deliver victory for Poland. Courtesy:

Poland 1-0 Northern Ireland

Group C was opened up by a savvy Polish outfit and one of the least fancied teams, debutants Northern Ireland. Both sets of fans did themselves proud in generating an electric atmosphere in the absence of pretty much any excitement.

The tactics of Northern Ireland were clear from the start as they attempted to frustrate Poland in an ultra-defensive formation. Poland were reduced to pot shots before Arkadiusz Milik fired their first major chance over the bar on the 37th minute.

It took a clever run from Jakub Blaszczykowski, who leveled the Poland all-time appearance record, to open up the box for Milik who composed himself before slotting the ball into the bottom corner. Without a single clear attempt on goal from the Irish, Milik’s strike proved final in delivering Poland their first ever win in the European Championships.


Poland Expectations: 7/10

Despite their poor record in the European Championships, there is a lot of experience in the team led by the outstanding Robert Lewandowski. An automatic qualification will be expected from the group.

Poland Verdict: 7/10

The performance was a patient one, and the organisation of the opposition defence stunted the attacking potential of the Polish players. Overall they will feel right on track and remain relatively confident coming into matchday 2.

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Northern Ireland Expectations: 4/10

Northern Ireland’s performance in the qualifying stage stunned the whole country. The fans in France will feel as though they have already done enough to simply be at the tournament. Low expectations for a team whose fans will likely bring more to the tournament than the team.

Northern Ireland Verdict: 3/10

Easily the most disappointing performance of matchday 1. In terms of the tactics used they were well organised, but the lack of any attacking incentive was hugely disappointing and painfully dull. A late push proved too little too late and great improvements will be required if they are to get anything from the following two fixtures.

Mustafi powers a header to break the deadlock for the Germans. Courtesy:

Mustafi powers a header to break the deadlock for the Germans. Courtesy:

Germany 2-0 Ukraine

World champions Germany got their campaign underway against a Ukraine team looking to improve on their debut performance four years ago.  Germany didn’t have it all their own way in the early stages as Jerome Boateng was forced into a goal line scramble before Ukraine had a goal ruled out for offside only moments later.

For the most part it was a comfortable night for the world champions as Mustafi’s commanding header broke the deadline. The only other real scare for Joachim Low’s side came three minutes from time when a misplaced header from the goalscorer bounced over the head of goalkeeper Manuel Neuer.

German veteran Bastian Schweinsteiger put the game to bed with a cool finish from a Mesut Ozil cross. The win leaves Germany in a dominant position as they prepare to take on Poland in Saint-Denis.

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Germany Expectations: 9/10

As the world champions, nothing but victory will be good enough for Germany. With a vast array of world class stars it will be no surprise if they make the final.

Germany Verdict: 8/10

After surviving a couple of scares the Germans made it look relatively easy. If this is what we can expect from the Germans in first gear, they could be an unstoppable threat later in the tournament.


Ukraine Expectations: 6/10

Ukraine will be relying on their solid back line if they are to progress beyond the group stage for the first time in their history. All eyes will be on Yarmolenko and the promising Konoplyanka to deliver the goals.

Ukraine Verdict: 6.5/10

Despite never really looking like toppling the world champions, a solid outfit showed some attacking potential that could trouble Northern Ireland and Poland.

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