How did the World Champions fare?
In what was probably the most entertaining game of the tournament so far- certainly on the day- world champs Germany got off to a winning start with a 2-0 win over Ukraine.
The Germans displayed the mark of champions and dominated the early minutes of the match. It didn’t take them long before they broke the deadlock, which came in the 19th minute. A free kick on the right delivered into the box by Özil found Mustafi, who headed into the top corner.
That would however be the last of German dominance and the Ukrainians started to create some wonderful opportunities. Both teams created chance after chance in the first half but Ukraine just couldn’t find the equaliser. They were denied by some outstanding goalkeeping and in the 37th minute by Jerome Boateng’s heroics; a slightly skewed shot from Konoplyanka almost went in off him but he somehow found a way to hack it off the line while falling into the net. The half would end with Germany in the lead.
Whatever Löw said to his team in the dressing room seemed to have worked as the Germans came out much tighter, dominated possession and pressured the Ukrainians to either pass the ball back or launch long balls upfield.
Bastian Schweinsteiger made his comeback from a long injury in the 89th minute coming on for Götze and promptly made his mark on the match by volleying Özil’s cross from the left following a quick counterattack past Pyatov. According to Opta, that goal was Schweinsteiger’s first for Germany since 2011.
The Germans turned in a great performance and though they may have had some holes defensively, they need not worry much as the imposing Hummels should be back soon but even without him they have the fabulous Neuer, who sometimes seem impregnable.
Özil’s wonderful form for Arsenal has spilled over into the tournament, assisting both goals. The unwanted man, Götze displayed some brilliance but wasn’t consistent throughout the game. Another player, who had a good game was Draxler; he looked lively until he was substituted. Kroos dominated midfield and controlled the tempo for Germany. He also delivered some lovely cross field passes as well as through balls for his teammates.
The Germans are certainly one of the favourites to take the trophy and their performance today says they absolutely can.
Day 3 of the tournament also saw Croatia and Poland in action
Real Madrid’s midfielder Modric scored a stunner just before halftime to give his team all three points and denying Turkey their first ever win over the Croats.
The Croatians looked competent and if Modric can continue to turn in the impressive performances he’s been turning in for club they’ll have a serious shot of at least getting to the semi-finals. They’ll also need a calm, level-headed Mandzukic to perform.
Poland’s game against Northern Ireland followed that up with the Polish sealing a 1-0 win, the goal coming from Milik in the 51st minute. The victory was also Poland’s first in the European Championships.
The tournament has yet to provide us with any upsets with every match going the way of the favourites. Maybe Czech can upset the defending champs, Spain tomorrow or Belgium can secure a win over the Italians.