Five observations from the first weekend of Euro 2016

France began the tournament in style

Two Premier League players ensured that hosts France began Euro 2016 with a victory. Arsenal’s Olivier Giroud, who had missed countless chances to put France ahead in the first half, scored the first goal of the tournament and then Dimitri Payet, who assisted Giroud’s goal, scored a spectacular goal of his own to seal victory for Les Blues in the 89th minute. The pure delight and emotion he showed after scoring that goal topped off Payet’s magnificent performance and it was no surprise that the West Ham midfielder was Carlsberg’s man of the match.

England’s dreadful record continues

The Three Lions have never won their opening match in the European Championships and Saturday was no different. In the 92nd minute, Russia scored and the match finished 1-1. There is no doubt that England deserved to win, with Man of the Match Eric Dier and captain Wayne Rooney among those putting in a solid performance. The first half was very impressive as they were dominant in possession and the only thing missing was a goal. If England had been more clinical when their chances came things could have been so different. While the final result is disappointing, there are plenty of positives to take from the game as they look ahead to their next match against Wales, the current Group B leaders.

Wales in charge of Group B

Chris Coleman’s men laid down a statement of intent with their 2-1 win over Slovakia on Saturday. They could have been 1-0 down had it not been for a brilliant goal-line clearance from Ben Davies but Gareth Bale’s brilliant free-kick in the 10th minute gave them the lead instead. Wales should have had a penalty, and Slovakia been down to 10 men after Martin Škrtel viciously elbowed Jonny Williams in the face but somehow the fifth official did not see the offence. Even when Slovakia equalised an hour into the match, Wales didn’t let it phase them. They remained disciplined and looked for chances to put the game to bed. Robson-Kanu scored the winner for Wales and by Saturday evening, they were top of Group B. It might not last for long but it is a moment that Wales will savour nonetheless.

Shortage of goals

Seven games have been played so far at Euro 2016 and only 13 goals have been scored. Two of the three matches on Sunday resulted in 1-0 victories when the winning sides, Poland and Croatia, should have converted more of their chances. Teams are dominating their games but struggling to score. Germany’s match is the only one so far that has been decided by more than one goal.

Successful substitutions

While Roy Hodgson’s decision to substitute Wayne Rooney against Russia proved to be a costly mistake, other managers have had far better results from their substitutions. Duda came on for Slovakia against Wales with half an hour to go and levelled the scoring just a minute later. But it was Wales who had the final say after Robson-Kanu came on in the 71st minute and scored the winner 10 minutes later. Another successful substitution was that of Manchester United midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger who came on and scored two minutes later to increase their lead in stoppage time. German efficiency at its best.



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