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Euro 2024 Day 6 recap – Germany progress, Scotland and Albania survive

Things heated up at the 2024 European Championship as the second round of group stage fixtures got underway.

Croatia and Albania kicked off the day’s fixtures, both off the back of defeats in their openers. They played out an enjoyable 2-2 draw, with Klaus Gjasula netting a last-gasp equaliser for Sylvinho’s side.

Defeat for either side would have made an early exit very likely – the point keeps both of them alive for now.

This was followed by a meeting between Germany and Hungary. The latter made things difficult for the hosts, but Die Mannschaft emerged victorious thanks to goals by Jamal Musiala and Ilkay Gundogan.

Wednesday’s games were rounded off by another entertaining match between Scotland and Switzerland, ending in a 1-1 draw.

Steve Clarke’s side will be thankful for the point, knowing that a defeat would almost certainly have seen them eliminated.

Standout Performer – Ilkay Gundogan

Following Friday’s 5-1 mauling of Scotland, many people fancied Germany for another comfortable afternoon when they faced Hungary. However, the Magyars put up an admirable fight, coming close on several occasions.

Germany’s quality ultimately prevailed, as they came away 2-0 winners. That quality was evident in their second goal when a beautiful passing move resulted in Ilkay Gundogan sweeping the ball into the far corner from Maximilian Mittelstadt’s cutback.

Julian Nagelsmann’s side became the first team to secure their place in the round of 16. They go into their third group game with Switzerland knowing that a draw will be enough to guarantee top spot.

Poorest Player – Anthony Ralston

Scotland put in a dire display in their opener against a far superior Germany side. They bounced back admirably yesterday, securing a 1-1 draw against Switzerland.

The result leaves their destiny in their hands, as a win over Hungary on Sunday will almost certainly be enough to see them through.

But the situation could have been so much brighter had Anthony Ralston not made a dreadful error in the first half.

With the Tartan Army 1-0 up, the defender played a loose pass straight to the left foot of Xherdan Shaqiri. The former Liverpool man proceeded to hit a beautiful first-time effort into the top corner to level the scores.

To his credit, Ralston recovered well enough from the mistake to put in a solid performance. But unfortunately it could be a blunder that he regrets later on.

Talking Point – Is Croatia’s ‘golden generation’ over?

Croatia have enjoyed the most fruitful era in their history in recent years. They made the World Cup final in 2018, reached the semi-finals in 2022 and lost last summer’s Nations League final on penalties.

They have looked miles off their best this year. A heavy defeat against Spain was followed by a draw against Albania, and they now head into their final group game against Italy needing a win to stand a realistic chance of progressing.

Luka Modric is 38 now. Ivan Perisic is 35. Ivan Rakitic and Dejan Lovren have retired from international duty, and Mario Mandzukic has retired entirely from football.

And, aside from Josko Gvardiol, there doesn’t seem to be a great wealth of young talent coming through.

Earning three medals is brilliant for a nation of under four million people, and manager Zlatko Dalic deserves huge credit.

Unfortunately, Croatia’s best days are behind them – it will hurt that they couldn’t quite get over the line.

Up Next

Three more games are on the way today, beginning with Slovenia vs Serbia. The former drew their opener 1-1 against Denmark, while the latter were defeated 1-0 by England.

A loss for either side would be incredibly damaging to their chances of progression.

The other two sides in Group C meet afterwards as Denmark face England. A win for the Three Lions books their place in the round of 16, and they could nail down top spot if results go their way.

The day finishes with a huge clash between Spain and Italy, who both sit on three points. Both nations can guarantee first place in the group with a win.

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