Everyone has played once now at Euro 2020 and while it’s always dangerous to draw any dramatic conclusions from the early games, we at least have a better idea of who’s here to play.
One thing we didn’t see was any major upsets. In fact, the only real underdog to win was tournament debutant Finland against Denmark, but Christian Eriksen’s collapse ended any chance that would be a normal game of football.
It was almost unusual to see all the big names reel of wins in their first matches. Perhaps the upsets are still to come in the group stage, but with the chance for many third-placed teams to go through, most of the heavyweights will be happy with how things have gone.
Here are the five most impressive teams at Euro 2020 so far, based on having seen them once.
5. Germany (lost 1-0 to France)
This will probably infuriate fans of England, the Netherlands, heck anyone who actually won a game. But while those were winning performances, they were also flawed in some way.
Germany went toe-to-toe with the best team in the world and matched them for much of the game.
France’s midfield is exceptional, so the fact Germany dominated possession for long periods and nearly came away with a draw from this one suggests they are going to have a big impact on this tournament.
4. Portugal (beat Hungary 3-0)
They weren’t up against the strongest opposition but don’t forget Hungary were playing at home in front of 60,000 extremely noisy fans, so a hefty win like this was impressiveÂ and necessary for Portugal, considering they have France and Germany to come in their group.
While there will be concerns about how long it took to break Hungary down, once Portugal found the net, they stuck the boot in. We always expect Portugal to be drab and defensive, but when they need to score goals, they have an array of attacking talent to call on â and now Cristiano Ronaldo has his tail up.
Their third goal, involving 33 passes in the build-up, was sublime.
3. Italy (beat Turkey 3-0)
Turkey were hailed as ‘dark horses’ before the tournament due to a very impressive recent record, and they still may go far, but Italy made them look second rate in the Euro 2020 opener.
The momentum behind Roberto Mancini’s side is starting to build an aura around the team, who haven’t lost in 28 matches and have won their last nine without conceding a goal. That is perhaps why the Turks opted to play in an extremely defensive manner rather than trying to match the Azzurri, but even that wasn’t enough to hold them out.
With defence and midfield humming, the most important thing for Italy in this tournament was for their strikers to find some form, and with both Lorenzo Insigne and Ciro Immobile scoring, the last piece of the puzzle may have just fallen into place.
2. Belgium (beat Russia 3-0)
The world’s top-ranked side are nearing the end of a golden generation, but that could also be its peak.
The squad is packed with exceptional talent across all areas, and in a tournament in which five substitutes are allowed, that should favour teams like Belgium and France who have immense depth. Though Belgium came up against a fairly underwhelming Russia side, they flexed their muscles with a ruthless display.
Most importantly, Romelu Lukaku was among the goals, nabbing two. He looks ready to tear his way though this tournament, so get used to images of defenders buckling under him like roadkill as he storms in on goal.
1. France (beat Germany 1-0)
Didier Deschamps’s side came into this tournament as favourites, and their classy and clinical win over Germany won’t see many people changing their minds.
They’ve added Karim Benzema to their ranks, but this looked just like the France side that won the World Cup three years ago. Their multi-faceted midfield, helmed by the best player in the world at present in N’Golo Kante and the always-brilliant-when-he-plays-for-France Paul Pogba, allows them to shift gears with ease, adapting to match situations and opponents.
Want a dour defensive tussle? France will match you and rely on its wonderful forwards to find a way through. Want to come in swinging? France will gorge on the open space and destroy you on the counter.
It seems increasingly apparent that the only thing stopping France winning this tournament will be France itself. Surely they’re due a self-implosion?