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Euro 2024 Day 1 recap – Germany shine against dismal Scotland

It’s been a long wait, but the European Championships are back, and they have started in electrifying fashion.

Off the back of a few years of below-par displays, Germany laid down a marker early on with a dominant display against Scotland.

Strikes from young duo Florian Wirtz and Jamal Musiala gave them a commanding lead early on before Kai Havertz and Niklas Fullkrug added to the scoreline.

A freak own goal by Antonio Rudiger gave the Tartan Army a brief moment of joy, but Die Mannschaft ended on a high when substitute Emre Can made it 5-1.

Here are the main takeaways from the match.

Standout Performer – Toni Kroos

After Germany’s elimination three years ago, Toni Kroos announced his retirement from international football. Up until February 2024, it seemed as if he would keep his word.

However, manager Julian Nagelsmann convinced the Real Madrid star to reverse his decision. And, having shone in a double-winning campaign at club level, the 34-year-old could be about to add another major honour to his dazzling collection.

The veteran – who is set to retire from football entirely after the tournament – controlled the game from start to finish. He completed an astonishing 101 passes while misplacing just one, creating four chances in the process.

Kroos has been one of the finest players of his generation. He has won the World Cup, six Champions Leagues, and league titles in two different countries.

This trophy is the only thing missing from his CV. It would be a fitting way to bow out.

Poorest Player – Ryan Porteous

Several Scottish players could have been selected here. Angus Gunn had a nightmare in goal, while the midfield hardly got a touch on the ball.

But it’s difficult to overlook Ryan Porteous, whose lack of discipline compounded the misery of Steve Clarke’s men.

The Watford defender put an end to any hope of a comeback with a brainless challenge on Ilkay Gundogan just before half-time.

The tackle was initially missed by the on-field referee, but VAR intervened to award a penalty to Germany and a red card for Porteous. Havertz converted the spot-kick moments later. 3-0 – down to ten men – game over.

Goal difference could be a key factor in this tournament – at Euro 2020, three sides were knocked out on goal difference.

A marginal defeat would have been somewhat acceptable, but the manner of the loss will be damaging for Scotland.

Talking Point – Are Germany back?

Germany are one of international football’s most prestigious nations. They have won four World Cups, three European Championship titles and claimed seven silver medals.

However, their record in recent years has been terrible. Their last win in a knockout tie came in 2016, and they boast just three victories from their last 11 matches at major tournaments – a run that includes defeats to Mexico, South Korea and Japan.

As a result, Germany entered this competition as something of an unknown quantity. They have a promising squad, a highly regarded manager and are the hosts. On paper, this ought to put them among the favourites.

There is still a long way to go, but their opening day showing suggests that they are a force to be reckoned with once again.

Up Next

Group A continues today as Hungary face Switzerland. The latter reached the quarter-finals of Euro 2020 – knocking France out along the way – while the former put up an admirable display in the ‘group of death’.

Spain face Croatia in the 5.00 pm kick-off. Their meeting at the last European Championship was a thriller, as La Furia Roja progressed with a 5-3 victory after extra time.

They also went head-to-head in last year’s Nations League final, which Spain also won.

Italy begin the defence of their title with a clash against Albania in the final game of the day.

Not many people expect the Azzurri to retain the crown, while Albania are also fancied for an early exit. Will either side silence the doubters?

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