All 16 teams have now played one match at Euro 2012, and it has been a rather entertaining tournament thus far. Here are some thoughts on each of the groups:
Poland were lucky to escape with a draw against Greece in a crazy match that saw both sides reduced to ten men and Greece miss a penalty. Russia evicerated the Czech Republic 4-1, a scoreline that might have even flattered the Czechs. Poland are sentimental favorites as co-hosts, but they have a very difficult test in their second game against Russia, who can all but clinch a second-round birth with a win. I expect Greece to beat the Czechs, as the Greeks will not want to let their survival rest on getting three points in their final match with the Russians.
The “Group of Death” provided the most surprising result in the first set of matches with Denmark beating Holland 1-0. This result, coupled with Germany’s 1-0 win over Portugal, means that the group could be decided after its second set of games on Wednesday if Germany beat Holland and Denmark beat Portugal. I would be very surprised if either of those two outcomes occur, though, as Holland and Portugal have enough in them to at least take some points and keep themselves alive.
The clash between Spain and Italy was the best match of the tournament thus far, with the 1-1 result fair even though both sides could have scored more. I was impressed by how well Italy played; I picked them to get eliminated in the group stage, but they look like they will prove me wrong. Croatia’s 3-1 win over Ireland was the most boring match thus far. The Irish never really looked in it and Croatia looked uninspiring even though they did a good job of taking their chances. Italy should be able to defeat them in the next match, and I doubt that Ireland will threaten Spain.
This is the Group of Death-lite because of the presence of the other co-host, Ukraine, who scored an exciting 2-1 victory over Sweden today. The Ukrainians certainly look like they can take points off the French in their next game. The 1-1 draw between France and England was a fair result, and bodes well for the English. Their match with Sweden will be one that both sides will be trying to win, Sweden because they are desperate for points and the English because they will not want the task of needing a win against Ukraine in their final group match, which should lead to some fun end-to-end action.