- North Macedonia (#62) vs Netherlands (#16) – Netherlands win 3-0
Netherlands cruised to a comfortable 3-0 victory like a bike ride through Holland after eating a special brownie. North Macedonia did not go down without a fight, as national team legend Goran Pandev and the boys had two goals disallowed for offsides and even drilling the post from a very promising shot. Pandev completed his 122nd and final match for North Macedonia and Netherlands gifted him a personalized shirt as a departing gift. Big, classy vibes from both teams to send off this legend.
Netherlands star Memphis Depay is a BEAST! 2 assists and 1 goal for the new Barcelona signee. Depay-Messi-Griezmann Barcelona connection is going to cause a big scene in La Liga and I cannot wait to see this happen. Back to his international form, he is merely a big cog in this Dutch machine. Liverpool stud Georginio Wijnaldum buried 2 goals, each being attributed to his field sense and placement on the field. He was reading the field so well and put himself in the right place for both goals.
This Netherlands squad looked shaky before their first Euro game but after going 3-0 in 3 games with an 8:2 goal differential they have quickly pulled the mask off and shown they have what it takes to be a top contender again. As a Serie A fan, I love seeing the backline combo of de Ligt and de Vrij just completely shutting corners down and then heading everything on the other end.
- Ukraine (#24) vs Austria (#23) – Austria wins 1-0
For being such a close ranked match, Austria came out tactically and with some bite to their game as if inspired by Beethoven himself. For every Ukraine attack there were 3-4 Austrian chances and counter attacks. Austria’s David Alaba, their best player and current Manchester United stud, put in a beauty of a cross and Baumgartner belted it in at the 21’. Ukraine seemed on their heels the whole game, giving up 9 corners to which Austria proceeded to grind the boys from Kyiv down behind Alaba’s crossing skill.
Ukraine lacks the overall star talent and depth and even if they were somehow able to make it in the third-place rankings, this dark horse seems to have met an early cap to their power after a lackluster performance. Andriy Yarmolenko was not able to continue his goal streak to 4 games in a row, impressive feat from the West Ham product.
Austria doesn’t have much to contend with but if they play with this kind of poise and aggression, they can definitely make an interesting Cinderella story. They are sitting in the 2nd place spot with 6 points in their pool play and look to proceed to the next round.
- Finland (#54) vs Belgium(#1) – Belgium wins 2-0
Finland was able to hold “The Red Devils” to a 0-0 first half with some impressive work from the back line and goalkeeper, not even registering a goal attempt against Belgium in the process. Belgium had a couple offsides and unlucky bounces and needed until the next half to finally put one in but they were so close multiple times in the first.
Finland was able to get some lively chances but the top ranked team in Fifa behind Kevin De Bruyne, Man City GOAT candidate, just couldn’t be held at bay long enough. Romelu Lukaku, Inter Milan star, dominated Finlands backline all game and got 1 on the board late to seal the W 2-0 in the 81st minute. Eden Hazard looked like a bronze stallion out there for not only his impressive tan, but how his skills are absolutely elite. Its tragic the past 2 years has been for this man. Chelsea star, signs mega deal with Real Madrid, gets hurt whole season, comes back and loses to Chelsea in Champions League the following year. I cannot stress enough though I happy I am to see him back.
Euro soccer to me is about identity and personality more than it is tactics. International soccer means you are playing for your country on the biggest stage while also being scouted and evaluated but clubs around the world. Belgium squad we are witnessing right now should be immortalized in Euro Football Hall of Fame. Romelu Lukaku, Kevin De Bruyne, and Eden Hazard salary and prestige alone should launch this team into the atmosphere. Then you sprinkle in Bundesliga stars like Axel Witsel, Thorgan Hazard, Thomas Meunier, while featuring numerous depth players from the EPL, mainly from Leicester City.
- Russia (#38) vs Denmark (#10) – Denmark win 4-1
Let me tell you about this Denmark squad with one simple word: Skyde. Nope not Skype, Skyde which is the Danish word for fire because they were ablaze all match. Top to bottom they controlled this whole match, especially the second half. This roster is loaded with some nice talent from the various Power 5 leagues. Russia was able to score on a penalty shot to try and make a comeback only being down 2-1 but Christensen answered with one of the best shots I’ve seen all tournament. Just to put the nail in the Russian coffin, Denmark’s Joakim Maehle, answered just 3 minutes after to solidify the 4-1 win.
Russia lacked overall depth and star talent to much a deep run in this tournament. Denmark showed how experience and talent can simply take over a game. Only succeeding 1 corner and 2 shots on goal against this tricky Russian squad is solid. Then putting 4 up on them is even better. Martin Braithwaite, Barcelona stud, to me is a great watch and should be top 5 in this tournament. The poise and vision combo with his ball control makes so much happen for this Denmark squad.
Christen Eriksen has reported in multiple times stating hes okay and healthy. He is still recovering and being monitored at the hospital and I can safely say I don’t think we should expect him back in this tournament.