It was great to see more of our Reds representing their countries during Euro 2020’s match day two fixtures. Still no minutes for Reds Captain Jordan Henderson, but I am hoping Gareth Southgate will ring in changes during match day three and insert some leadership and work rate into that engine room for the three lions. Match day two saw three countries punch their tickets to the knockout stage of the competition: Italy, the most in-form team of the tournament, as well as Belgium and the Netherlands. These countries have all secured progression, and will be looking to secure the top spot in their respective groups and set up a deep run in the coming weeks. Let’s get to the Reds review and preview match day three for our boys!
Turkey 0-2 Wales
Once again Liverpool duo Neco Williams and Harry Wilson had to settle with starting the match from the substitutes’ bench. Aaron Ramsey opened the scoring just before half time on another strike assisted by the resurgent Gareth Bale. Harry Wilson was subbed on for Ramsey in the 85th minute and made a noticeable impact on the Wales side in his small run out. He was unlucky to have a shot blocked during stoppage time, or he might have found the score sheet. Neco Williams was a thrown on late to waste time, but was on the pitch to celebrate his country’s second goal. Wales will need more heroics from Bale for them to replicate their 2016 run in the Euros, when their Cinderella run ended in the semifinals to eventual champions Portugal.
Italy 3-0 Switzerland
Italy put on another dominate display in brushing aside Xherdan Shaqiri’s Switzerland team. Shaq had no time or space on the ball, as it seemed like two Italians defenders were closing him down every time he received a pass. Shaq’s teammates on the attack did little to trouble the Italian defense, but he too had no answer to unlock their backline. He was subbed off in the 76th min, for what I believe the coach to saving some gas in his tank for match day three. Switzerland will need to win big against Turkey, and even then might still need help to secure one of the four third-place qualification spots.
England 0-0 Scotland
England manager Gareth Southgate has come under criticism for his defensive setup and approach to the Scotland match. Once again, he failed to name Jordan Henderson as one of his starters and our Captain was an unused sub. Even more shocking was his decision not to insert English teenage sensation Jude Bellingham or rising star Jadon Sancho when the game seemed to be screaming for their inclusion. Andy Robertson did what Robbo does… put in a man-of-the-match performance, exuding confidence and determination as he helped his Scottish side to a memorable Wembley result. Scotland will need a victory in match day three to secure progression. What a story it would be for Robbo to Captain Scotland to the knockout rounds – WOW!
Portugal 2-4 Germany
This was by far the most entertaining match of the tournament to date! A six-goal thriller that had all the makings of a classic European Championship match. Diogo Jota started on the left for Portugal and was active and lively from the beginning. Portugal opened the scoring on a Cristiano Ronaldo tap-in that was brilliantly laid off by Jota. Bernardo Silva played a sublime ball over the top, which Jota controlled beautifully before finding Ronaldo in front of goal. Jota easily could have taken on the keeper, but the pass was the right play. Whether #7 would have laid that off is another question (to which I think you know the answer 😉). Germany stormed back with FOUR unanswered goals before Jota made it 2-4 with a close-range tap in following a cross. Jota was later subbed off in the 83-min, but a goal and an assist is a good showing, even if the result was not the one they were looking for.
Spain 1-1 Poland
Spain has been the most disappointing team at this championship outside of possibly Turkey. Spain’s inability to dictate tempo and finish clear chances have been their shortcoming in their opening matches. Therefore, Luis Enrique’s decision to not start or even play Thiago Alcantara against Poland was surprising. With Spain chasing a goal and having little creative spark, the decision seemed obvious to this Red. I am a big fan of the Spaniard, and loved the progression we saw from his performances towards the end of the LFC campaign. I was hoping to see him showcase even more for his country. Spain needs a victory vs Slovakia on match day three to guarantee progression, and will be in serious trouble of not making the group stages otherwise. Sorry to our Spanish readers, but based on their performances, I will lose ZERO sleep should they not progress.
Wildcard Report: Danny Ward’s Wales Heroics
Former Liverpool backup goalkeeper Danny Ward is our wildcard spotlight for match day two. Ward started in net for Wales in both of their opening fixtures at this championship. He has been one of the bright spots for Wales, especially in defense. Bale’s woeful penalty miss in the second half gave Turkey some life and momentum had started to swing in their favor. Ward made two fine saves, which allowed his country to hold onto their 1-0 lead long enough for Roberts’ match-clinching second effort in stoppage time. Ward has been really good for the first two matches, but he is going to need to be even better when they face Italy on match day three. A Wales win would see them end the group stage with an improbable first place finish.
Match day two had all the workings of the middle games of a group stage tournament. Great matches, cagey draws and stinkers left right and center. I have been underwhelmed by this tournament so far, and am looking forward to the added drama of qualification scenarios and player rotation leading up to Match Day Three fixtures. During our Match day three review, we will also be doing a slight preview of some of the tasty knockout round matches, and when you might see some of our boys in action. Hope you enjoyed the article and thank you for reading. Now… Let’s go Italy!