As we go into the second lot of tournament fixtures, I take a look back at what players stood out in matchday 1 of Euro 2020.
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5. Danny Ward – Wales – GK
As a proud Welshman, I am so relieved that we had Danny between the sticks on Saturday when we played Switzerland in matchday 1. The amount of saves Ward made that Hennessey would normally concede was the difference between us nicking a point and losing the game. Embolo could’ve easily had a hat trick if it wasn’t for Ward’s acrobatic saves throughout the game, including a save from a corner in the 90th minute which has now kept Wales’ qualification hopes alive. Ward will hope to go one better and keep a clean sheet vs Turkey.
4. Denzel Dumfries – Netherlands – RB
The best game of matchday 1 for me was Netherlands vs Ukraine and Denzel was the stand out. Putting RB next to his name is very debatable considering how far forward he was for 99% of the game. Denzel was incredibly attacking but different to most RB’s, he had an end product. Saying that, he did miss a sitter in the early part of the game but he more than made up for it. It was Dumfries’ cross that got deflected back to Wijnaldum to open the scoring and it was his header (Which was a lot harder of a chance than the first) that sealed the win for the Netherlands as they look to take their attacking prowess into the next match. Dumfries is in the prime of his career and this could be the start of something for the Dutch RB.
3. Patrik Schick – Czech Republic – ST
This one is enough to make Scottish people feel Schick (I apologise), but what a performance this man had in matchday 1. Towering above the Scottish defence to header home the opener on the 42nd minute, when Scotland were the better team and creating a lot more chances. His second goal will probably be goal of the tournament. Jack Hendry goes for goal from 25 yards out and it ricochets off a Czech defender into the path of Schick. Marshall, Scotland’s goalkeeper was about 30 yards out of his goal when Schick looks up as he’s running onto the ball, before a sublime curling effort finds it’s way into the back of the net from about 50 yards out. Schick could be one to keep an eye out for making the team of the tournament, he may even get himself a big move if he keeps this up.
2. Romelu Lukaku – Belgium – ST
After seeing his club team mate, Christian Eriksen collapse on the pitch earlier in the day, Lukaku went on to put in a stellar performance for the Red Devils, scoring twice in a convincing 3-0 win over Russia. Lukaku’s first goal came after just 10 minutes when a mistake by a defender left him open to slot home a cross from Mertens. Straight after scoring, Lukaku ran to a camera and said “Chris, stay strong, I love you” dedicating his goal to Eriksen. Romelu then sealed the win, scoring in the 88th minute. Timing his run to perfection as Meunier threaded a ball through the Russian defence, before calmly putting the ball passed the hopeless keeper with his weaker foot. Lukaku is only going to get better the deeper Belgium go into the finals, and I can’t see anyone but him grabbing the golden boot.
1. Simon Kjær – Denmark – CB
Some things are bigger than football, and what Simon did on Saturday is one. I don’t think there’s enough words to describe the heroism that Simon exhibited on Saturday afternoon as he quite literally saved Eriksen’s life. On the 42nd minute Eriksen collapsed on the pitch and Kjær instantly went to aid Christian, clearing his airways by making sure he didn’t swallow his tongue and started CPR before the medics took over. After that he got the Danish players to form a shield around Eriksen, protecting him from the media and the fans. Kjær then went over to the touchline and was comforting Eriksen’s clearly distraught partner. Christian is now in a stable condition and has shared positive updates since it has happened. No matter what happens for the rest of this tournament, the actions of Kjær will be what I’ll take from it. In a world where you can be anything, be like Kjær.