Lucky Seven - Euro 2024's Super Weekend

Euro 2024 First Weekend

German fans in Munich.
German fans in the Englischer Garten, Munich

Euro 2024 Group Stage Results

Germany 5:1 Scotland

Spain 3:0 Croatia

Switzerland 3:1 Hungary

Italy 2:1 Albania

Netherlands 2:1 Poland

Denmark 1:1 Slovenia

England 1:0 Serbia

The Euros are really firing now after seven games and 22 goals in three days. The goal fest has been really encouraging as Euros group stages can be deathly dull.

Despite Albania and Poland taking leads against bigger fish and briefly threatening upsets, all the wins have gone to the higher-ranked nations so we still await a shock to enliven the tournament. Slovenia, in not losing to Denmark, came the closest. Christian Eriksen opening the scoring having had such a terrifying experience at the last Euros, was a lovely moment we could all cheer.

Italy v Albania in Dortmund.
Italy v Albania in Dortmund

Hungary were many a pundit's tip to the Euros' dark horse but were clearly second best to a more mobile Switzerland, who have been the surprise package so far. The Swiss were supposed to be an ageing squad on the way out, a tag now stuck to Croatia, whose old guard, after a World Cup and Nations League final and a World Cup semi final in the past six years, were outgunned comprehensively by a rejuvenated Spain.

La Roja's double injection of pace up front in Nico Williams and Lamine Yamal has energised the 'passenaccio' of Spain at Qatar 2022 and the 16 year-old Yamal did plenty to justify the hype. Continue like that and the Barcelona kid will be the young player of the tournament.

Albania's dream start of a first-minute goal enraptured their many fans across Europe. Nedim Bajrami's 23rd second strike was the stuff of dreams, but Italian class came back quickly to lead by the 16th minute.

If Bajrami's goal was one for the record books, Nicolo Barella's winner was the goal of the first weekend, a technically perfect half volley from inside the D. Wout Weghorst of the Netherlands was the super-sub so far, netting the Dutch's winner against Poland two minutes after coming on.

The Azzurri are not many people's favourites to retain their crown but that controlled performance suggests their eleven, based on Inter's Serie A winning side, could go far again at the Euros.

Equally, the favourites controlled their game enough to win without a goal fest, but it did feel like a new England for the first half hour with Serbia deferring to a Three Lions who were sweeping the ball around with a swagger.

But then after the break, old failings resurfaced and Serbia came back with a vengeance and England withdrew into their shell to see out the clock rather than bossing the game and pushing for a second goal. That sounds like their Euro 2020 final defeat, but the mood is better now due to the increase in options.

Marc Guehi looked assured at centre back, Jude Bellingham confirmed his star status with some smooth passages and the winning goal but the fact Gareth Southgate could bring on Jarrod Bowen, Conor Gallagher and Kobbie Mainoo confirms England have real strength in depth.

As for tactics, bad zonal marking was to blame for goals conceded by Italy and the Netherlands and the whipped cross has been much in evidence with passing through the middle now seemingly a thing of the past. That said, England did thread the ball a lot to Bellingham through the centre.

Denmark 1:1 Slovenia.
Denmark 1:1 Slovenia

The FIFA Technical report on Qatar said as much about the death of tiki-taka. I also noted a lot of quick thrusts and channel balls from Serbia and Slovenia, albeit not to much avail.

It has been a great start to the finals. We now await the first appearances of the remaining two big guns, France and Portugal.

Euro 2024

Hotels in Germany

Euro 2024 Group A

Euro 2024 Group B

Euro 2024 Group C

Euro 2024 Group D

Euro 2024 Group E

Euro 2024 Group F

Germany v Scotland

First Weekend

Bratwurst & Fußball

Belgium 0 v Slovakia 1

Better to Travel than Arrive

The Group Stage in Stats

Oranje Juiced by Watkins' Wizardry

The Wisdom of Hindsight

(c) Sean O'Conor & Soccerphile

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