Euro 2016: Matchday 1 in Group D

Cormac O'DonnellEuropean Championship0 Comments

Group D kicked off campaigns for Spain, the winners of the previous two European Champions, whilst Croatia, Turkey, and the Czech Republic prepared to likely battle it out for the second spot.

Modric delivers one of the moments of the tournament. Courtesy: skysports.com

Modric delivers one of the moments of the tournament. Courtesy: skysports.com

Turkey 0-1 Croatia

A feisty atmosphere greeted an equally feisty opening fixture in Group D as the unmistakable whistles of the Turkish fans drowned out everything in the stadium. Whilst Croatia dominated the first half, both sides had their chances before a sublime 30 yard volley from Real Madrid’s Luka Modric gave Croatia the lead.

Croatia continued to bombard the Turkish goal, striking the bar twice; firstly from a well-struck free-kick from Srna and later in the game from the head of Perisic. Turkey were reduced to half-chances and Croatia’s dominance paid off as they secured a well-deserved victory at the Parc de Princes.

 

Turkey Expectations: 6/10

With the likes of Arda Turan and Burak Yilmaz in the squad, Turkey are certainly no pushovers. Having finished 3rd in 2008 Turkey would be exceeding expectations to match that performance in France.

Turkey Verdict: 6/10

Arda Turan proved not to be enough for Turkey. Whilst they showed themselves as a solid and determined outfit, they were simply outclassed by Croatia. They will remain confident in overcoming Czech Republic but will be unlikely to trouble the holders Spain.

 

Croatia Expectations: 7.5/10

Croatia are many peoples’ dark horses for this tournament. This is no surprise with veteran striker Mario Mandzukic being supported by the magical Luka Modric as well as Barcelona’s Ivan Rakitic in midfield.

  Euro 2016: Matchday 2 in Group A

Croatia Verdict: 9/10

A truly inspirational performance from Croatia in a game which they could really have scored three or four. It will be intriguing to see Croatia face up to one of the major sides in France because at first glance they are looking like the whole package.

Pique celebrates a late winner. Courtesy: itv.com

Pique celebrates a late winner. Courtesy: itv.com

Spain 1-0 Czech Republic

The holders twice over opened up their campaign against a Czech side who reached the quarter-finals in 2012. The tactics of both sides were clear straight from kick-off; for Spain, patience was the key as we were treated to their usual pin-point passing play. Czech Republic on the other hand would stubbornly attempt to hold the holders to a draw.

The Czech Republic appeared comfortable despite a first half in which Spain held 74% possession and completed 378 passes. Spain’s lack of goalscoring threat is a worrying feature that Alvaro Morata will be hoping to mend in future games.

The only real threat from the Czech side was a header from Theodor Gebre Selassie which was hooked off the line by Cesc Fabregas. The stubborn resilience of the Czech Republic and goalkeeper Petr Cech were finally broken three minutes from time when Gerard Pique met the cross of Barcelona team-mate Andres Iniesta.

 

Spain Expectations: 8/10

Despite lifting the previous two European Championships, their awful performance in the 2014 World Cup has put a slight hesitancy on the expectations of the holders. A star-studded squad remains however, and we are likely to see Spain in the latter stages of the tournament.

  Euro 2016: Matchday 2 in Group B

Spain Verdict: 7/10

This is a performance which split the crowd. It could be argued that a patient Spanish side eventually expertly wore down their opponent. In reality Spain were dull for large parts of the game and offered little threat, partly due to a lacklustre display from Alvaro Morata. In addition, they played the side who conceded more than any other qualified nation in the qualifying stage and have kept only one cleansheet in the last 23 games. On the bright side, Andres Iniesta shone for Spain, delivering the best individual performance so far in the tournament.

 

Czech Republic Expectations: 5/10

The leaky defence of the Czech Republic in combination with lacklustre attack options makes them one of the least fancied teams in the tournament. They will rely on their experienced heads to get anything from a tough group.

Czech Republic Verdict: 6/10

A solid performance from the underdogs, but their worrying lack of quality up front will affect their chances of progressing from a difficult group with Croatia and Turkey coming up.

 

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  Euro 2016: Matchday 2 in Group D

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