With a little over a week of EURO 2020 action played we have gotten to the business end of the group stages. Heavy favorites start to look ahead to potential knockout stage opponents, underdogs still have opportunities to make a surprise run, and stars still have time to shine in the international spotlight. In this post, TGH breaks down five key takeaways from the first set of matches and what they mean going forward.
England Still Looking for Goals
When previewing England for this tournament, TGH praised the attacking options and dreamed of the connections on the pitch. Through two matches against Croatia and Scotland, they scored once and drew 0-0 to bitter rivals Scotland. Last season’s top goal scorer in the Premier League Harry Kane has no goals through two matches and was taken off early for Marcus Rashford against Scotland on Friday.
Gareth Southgate has plenty of options and talent at his disposal and can find a way to make this group of players produce goals. Jadon Sancho has not seen the field yet and Jack Grealish provided a different attacking option in the few minutes he got in the Scotland match. Adding these players, while giving Rashford a start, could be the remedy this English side needs.
Italy Look Strong
Many predicted Italy to have a successful summer this time around and they look up for the challenge. Two Matches. Two Wins. Six goals scored. Zero goals conceded. Roberto Mancini is pressing all the right buttons with this group and they are off to a perfect start. Ciro Immobile has two goals and an assist through two matches and Manuel Locatelli looks like the real deal in midfield with two great goals against Switzerland in their second match. If they beat Wales this Sunday, they will equal their 30 match unbeaten streak set in July 1939.
Marco Veratti may get his first minutes in this match after recovering from an injury sustained at PSG. Italy have also gone 965 minutes without conceding, scoring 31 goals in that span, too. Chiellini will be missed in the back after leaving their previous match with an injury, but expect Italy to be unfazed and ready for the knockout rounds.
Lukaku: Europe’s Best?
Romelu Lukaku has always been a world class talent, but he has taken it to another level this year. He scored 24 goals and assisted on 11 for Inter Milan in their title winning season and has only kept it going during the Euros. Lukaku scored two against Russia, but was held in check in Belgium’s last match against Denmark. Belgium have won both of their matches and look like favorites in Group B.
What is amazing about Lukaku is the way he only needs a touch or two of the ball per match and will still score goals. Defenders must always be aware of the runs and the strength around the box and in the air. Lukaku should score more goals and walk away with the golden boot.
Group of Death Not Disappointing
Everyone was waiting for Group F and it has not disappointed. Germany and Portugal produced a six-goal thriller with two own goals and France was not able to take control of the group after drawing 1-1 against Hungary. With one more match for all four nations still to play, the group is truely up for grabs and will be must-watch television when it wraps up on June 23.
Everyone’s trendy pick of Turkey to make it out of the group stages seems to have not paid off. They have no goals scored in two matches and they will need a miracle on the last matchday to turn their fortunes around. Turkey’s qualifying campaign was built on their defense and now they have conceded five in just the first two matches. They have scored no goals in the tournament and do not look like they have the answers this summer. Perhaps a new manager and some fresh faces in the Turkey side could set them up for a more successful World Cup qualifying and Nations League campaign.
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