By Gerald Lutchman
WOW! what a day for football. All of my prediction of winners came through. Especially the thriller where Holland defeated Ukraine by my exact prediction. I had all Sunday.
So far I have gotten them all except the Denmark game but that was an analomy given the tragedy on the pitch for Denmark.
This was a day of exciting football – the young fast English team and the unpredictable but entertaining Dutch and Ukraine.
England vs Croatia – a Sterling performance 1-0 Wembley Stadium
As predicted England came out on top. A sterling performance by England led to all three points for the first time in an opening game at a European championship. I had predicted a tough game and a 1 goal victory for England. I stated it would have been 2-1 and it was 1-0.
England looked the far better side and proved it with a Sterling goal in the 57th. England were from the onset more purposeful and had Croatia searching for the ball. Southgate started a young team with tremendous pace and the long ball was too much for Croatia to defend. Each time it seemed to work and Croatia were unable to defend against the accuracy of these passes.
As the game flowed England began to run out of steam in a hot English summer. Croatia looked more comfortable in the second half and seemed the better team until the goal in the 57th.
At the end it was quite even in terms of ball possession with England at 51% and Croatia at 49%, both had 8 shots at goal and about the same number of passes with an accuracy of 83% for both.
Under English conditions and a noisy home crowd I can see this English team being very difficult to beat. So, maybe at the finals in Wembley, it will be Prince William in the box cheering (well we are certain it will not be Harry).
Austria vs north Macedonia 3 -1 National Arena
Again my prediction of an Austrian win was correct. I had predicted a 2-1 score line but Austria did better at 3-1. It was an exciting game with two of the lesser teams in probably the weakest group. There was a lot of goal mouth action and exciting football.
North Macedonia only gained independence in 1991 and is a successor state of Yugoslavia. The Tavche Gravche (national dish of baked beans) eating population did themselves proud by creating a lot of opportunities and getting on the score line.
The Austrians led by the 18th by a goal from Lanier but North Macedonia were not to be outplayed replied in the 28th with Pandev’s strike. Austria took the lead again in the 78th with a beautiful goal from Gregoritch and killed off the contest in the 88th by Arnautovic.
Austria had a lot of dominance with 64% of the possession and an 83% passing accuracy rate. They certainly can press to come out of this group with this win.
Netherlands vs Ukraine 3-2 Amsterdam Arena
Wow! What a cracker of a game. Mt Exact prediction came out a 3-2 score line in favour of the Dutch. What a thriller of a game. Do not write Ukraine out of the competition, they have quality and fight. Holland are a good attacking team and it will be a joy to watch them as the competition proceeds. Both teams are exceptional at attack but have defensive issues.
All the goals came in the second half, after an impressive performance by Holland in the first half but they could not score. That changed in the second half when they took a 2-0 lead courtesy of Wijnaldum in the 52nd and Weghorst in the 58th. Many thought it was over but Yarmolenko goal of the tournament so far in the 75th and Yaremchuk 79th minute strike made it equal. There was to be no draw because Dumfries 85th minute header sealed the deal. Wonderful – this is what we want, great excitement.
Scotland vs Czech Republic Hamden Park
This should be an interesting game. Scotland are no pushovers and want to do well but this Czech team is very good and this should be a good game. I predict a Czech victory of 2-1.
Poland vs Slovakia Krestovsky stadium 12 noon
I expect this to be an easy game for Poland and a comfortable 2-0 victory.
Spain vs Sweden Estadio de la Cartauja 1 3pm
I expect this to be another cracker of a game. A Spanish team with a point to prove and a Swedish team that does not back down. Given the Covid-19 scare of the Spanish team they may be underprepared and may have to field some players they may not normally. The edge on this one is Sweden, 2-1 in their favour.