After the first round of matches in the group stage, let’s have a look at each of the groups. With some draws and a shocker, the predictions at the onset of the tournament have gone for a toss. But let’s look at the groups:
Group A: – seems to be going somewhat as expected. Russia having won their first match against the Czech Republic 4-1, lead the group with 4 points. Greece & Poland having drawn their opening match against each other have a point each. The Czech’s have their work cut out for them and it will be a surprise if they do qualify for the next round.
Group B: This one served the shocker as favourites to perhaps win the tournament, Holland lost their opening match to Denmark 0-1. It was painful to watch the Dutch team squander chance after chance, their finishing letting them down. Denmark will be buoyed by their unexpected win and will be tough to beat. Germany huffed and puffed to a 1-0 win over Portugal, who look shades paler of their former selves. This is the group of death indeed because Holland & Portugal are capable of winning the next matches and throwing the balance of the group back at square one. This group is the most exciting to watch.
Group C: Croatia as expected won their match against the Irish, a comfortable 3-1 win. A highly anticipated match up between Italy and Spain which sparked for a while but failed to completely whet our appetites. Spain still seem strong enough to qualify, even fielding their starting 11 against Italy without a proper striker. Italy looked good but they seem to be lacking the star quality of old. Ireland are certainly capable of pulling out a surprise or two in their remaining matches and should not be taken lightly.
Group D: Another surprise was Ukraine beating Sweden 2-1 with a brace from Andreyi Shevachenko (damn missed that game, it looked to have been exciting in the highlights). I don’t see Ukraine qualifying from this group but if they do – all kudos to them. England and France was another match I was looking forward to and it did entertain but not as much as I had wanted to. A 1-1 drawn between them puts Ukraine at the top of the group and who saw that coming? Anyways, we still have 2 more rounds to come and I expect that we will see England & France going through. Or will Sweden come out with all guns blazing in the next two games? We can only wait and see. But this looks like a very interesting group as well.