EUROS: Changes, Permutations & Drama

Matchday Two : Qualifying To The Knockouts!

By  | Jun 17, 2021, 11:27 AM

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Matchday two has already rolled in so let’s take a look at the permutations for qualifying to the knockouts, major team news, plus a bit of drama because there's never a dull moment in football. 

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Italy Through

Rome is a fortress. An identical 3-0 scoreline saw the Azzurri become the first nation to seal a place in the second round. Manuel Locatelli’s double and a sublime Ciro Immobile finish put the Italians through with a game to spare. Another night of pure masterclass underpins the following statistics - 10 clean sheets, 31 unanswered goals and a 29 game unbeaten streak. What more proof does anyone need to take Italy seriously?

The commentator summarized both sides very aptly in his opening line; “Italy don’t concede goals and Switzerland struggle to score them.” True to those words, the performance and result speak to them. 

One Foot In For Wales

Wales are on the brink of qualifying for the last 16 after a 2-0 victory over Turkey. Aaron Ramsey scored a well-chested Gareth Bale pass to give The Dragons the lead. Connor Roberts netted at the death to double. Bale assisted the second and must have felt relieved at the final whistle after he skied his penalty.

As for Turkey, their chances of even a third-placed best finish are slim after a second consecutive defeat.

Russia’s Ray Of Hope

Russia kept their hopes of a round of 16 progression alive after a hard-fought 1-0 win over Finland on Wednesday. Second spot in group B is up for grabs as both teams now have three points. Denmark can join in the mix if they win against Belgium. 

Team News: Who’s In. Who’s Out

Alessandro Florenzi missed Italy’s clash against Switzerland on Wednesday with a calf injury. He is expected to be back for matchday three. That notwithstanding, Roberto Mancini still has the depth of his team to rely on. 

Defender Yuri Zhirkov missed Russia’s 1-0 victorious clash with Finland after he was ruled out of the tournament. At 37 years old, this is undoubtedly his last Euros. 

Timothy Castagne will take no further part in Belgium’s campaign. The defender suffered a head injury in their opener against Russia. Fellow defender Jan Vertonghen is a doubt. Good news though - Axel Witsel could return. Kevin De Bryune is back in training raising hopes of his availability.

Injury-hit England will not have the services of goalkeeper Dean Henderson after he withdrew from camp due to a hip injury. Reserve goalie Aaron Ramsdale replaces him.

Kieran Tierney is back in training. The Arsenal defender missed their opening encounter against Czech Republic after he picked a “niggling injury”. Scotland manager Steve Clarke admitted that his absence forced him to “change his preparations” so definitely, this is welcome news. And you can easily be part of the live-action with as little as R20 and Cash Out!

Permutations. Who Needs What

Italy are already through and the remaining nations could join them in this round of fixtures. What do they need?

Belgium, Austria, Czech Republic, England, Slovakia, Portugal, and France who won their opening games have a chance of sealing a place in the round of 16 should they win. That’s pretty much straightforward. Lose and it throws the groups wide open. Finland is a perfect example of this. A win would have taken them to the next round but they lost to Russia and now, it’s all there for the taking in group B.

A draw could also set up a tense finish on matchday three. That said, positional places will be dependent on how the overall group results pan out.

It can get complicated though. 
With four best third-placed teams able to advance, teams like Spain and Sweden who have one point could finish in these positions or even better. And even day one losers still have hope. Let’s refer back to Russia. Lost their opening match but now, they’ve blown group B wide open and the battle for second and third goes to the final group games.

On a light note

A Bite Or A Nibble?

Footballers can at times do crazy, unthinkable things. Like biting an opponent. Haha! That’s how tough the game can be. During France's 1-0 win over Germany, mercurial midfielder Paul Pogba claimed that German defender Antonio Rudiger bit him. 
Rudiger had his hands around Pogba with his face on his back. He appeared to have gone in for a bite but just resisted the temptation at the very last minute. The incident happened a few minutes before halftime. The referee wasn’t interested, neither was the VAR and UEFA won't be investigating the defender. 
Pogba was a thorn in the flesh (excuse the pun) for the German midfield throughout and clearly, Rudiger ran out of footballing ideas that could contain him. 

Getting Rid Of Bottles

Is this now a thing? First, it was Cristiano Ronaldo and now Paul Pogba. A day after Ronaldo cleared two bottles of Coca-Cola off the table in a pre-match press conference, Paul Pogba followed suit. The French midfielder removed a bottle of Heineken beer from the table during a post-match press conference after his team’s win over Germany. Unlike CR7, Pogba didn’t scoff or say anything about it and left the coke untouched. Heineken are also Euro 2020 sponsors.

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