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Euro 2024 Day 2 recap – Spain spectacular, Switzerland and Italy also victorious

Six more teams got their 2024 European Championship adventures underway yesterday and the games provided plenty of entertainment.

Switzerland defeated Hungary 3-1 in Cologne. Kwadwo Duah, Michel Aebischer and Breel Embolo were on target for Murat Yakin’s men, with Barnabas Varga netting for the Magyars.

A meeting between two of Europe’s most highly-regarded nations followed as Spain faced Croatia. It was a comfortable win for the three-time European champions, with Alvaro Morata, Fabian Ruiz and Dani Carvajal scoring before half-time.

The final game of the day came between Italy and Albania, and it looked like we were in for a shock when Nedim Bajrami fired home after just 23 seconds.

However, goals from Alessandro Bastoni and Nicolo Barella ensured that the holders made a winning start to their title defence.

Standout Performer – Federico Chiesa

Federico Chiesa played a huge role in securing the Azzurri’s sixth major trophy at Euro 2020. Three years and one long-term injury later, the winger is recapturing the same form that made him a household name.

He may not have registered any goals or assists, but Chiesa was at the heart of everything Italy did going forward. He tormented the Albanian backline all evening, showcasing his incredible pace and dribbling. He was a true joy to watch.

Many people feel that Italy have dropped off significantly since the previous tournament. But if Chiesa can continue putting up performances like this one, they stand a chance of competing once again.

Poorest Player – Bruno Petkovic

It was a difficult afternoon for Croatia. They were 3-0 down at half-time, struggling to create anything meaningful.

That was until the 78th minute when they were gifted a way back into the game after a mistake by goalkeeper Unai Simon.

When the ball fell to substitute Bruno Petkovic, he had a simple task to roll the ball into an empty net.

Instead, under pressure from Manchester City’s Rodri, the 29-year-old went to ground – presumably in an attempt to get his opponent sent off. Replays showed there was minimal contact, but a penalty was awarded nonetheless.

Having already passed up on the opportunity to get on the scoresheet, Petkovic stepped up to take the penalty, knowing that he would need to score if his side were to have any chance of a comeback.

Unfortunately, his spot-kick was kept out by Simon. The forward bundled the ball home in the aftermath, but VAR ruled out the goal due to infringement.

Croatia have landed in a tough group. Goal difference could prove vital if they wish to progress. Petkovic’s misses may seem inconsequential now, but they could turn out to have a huge impact.

Talking Point – Spain make statement

France, England, Portugal and Germany – they’re the main four teams expected to reach the latter stages of the tournament.

Spain are often overlooked when discussing the favourites for the trophy despite winning the Nations League last summer.

Luis de la Fuente’s side don’t have the superstar factor of the other quartet – there is no Kylian Mbappe, Jude Bellingham, Cristiano Ronaldo or Jamal Musiala in their squad. But that doesn’t mean they should be underestimated.

Alvaro Morata – a man often maligned for his profligacy in front of goal – opened the scoring in yesterday’s game.

The former Chelsea forward has scored at least three goals at every major international tournament he has participated in. Lamine Yamal, Pedri and Fabian Ruiz were also in fine form.

It would be unwise to read too much into one game – Spain won 7-0 in their opener at the World Cup in Qatar but were eliminated in the round of 16 by Morocco.

But it’s an encouraging start and a reminder that they can be a real threat.

Up Next

There are three more games today, beginning with Poland vs Netherlands. Despite being one of Europe’s giants, the Oranje have failed to impress at recent European Championships, last winning a knockout tie in 2004.

This is followed by a clash between Slovenia and Denmark. The latter reached the semi-finals of Euro 2020, while the former have never made it out of the group stage of any tournament in their history as an independent nation.

Sunday’s Euro 2024 action finishes with a meeting between Serbia and England. As always, the Three Lions have the weight of expectation on their shoulders – can they finally deliver?

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