Euro 2016 | Day 3: Germany emerge as early leaders, Croatia avenge 2008 defeat & Northern Ireland's underwhelming debut
Croatia made a winning start to their campaign against Turkey courtesy of a stunning goal from Luka Modric. Northern Ireland's ultra-defensive approach led to Poland's first ever win at the European Championship, while Germany got the job done with a 2-0 win over Ukraine to lead Group C.
Croatia lay the ghost of 2008 to rest
Almost eight years back Croatia suffered one of their biggest heartbreaks in their footballing history at the hands of Turkey. Like in this Euro, they were labeled as the dark horse in Euro 2008, and they justified that tag by beating Germany and finishing the group stage with 100% record. In the quarter-final, Ivan Klasnic put them in the lead in the 119th minute of the match, and the Croatians celebrated like there was no tomorrow. However, just before the final whistle, Semih Senturk equalized for Turkey, and the
Before the start of their Group D clash against Turkey, Croatian captain
Boasting of one of the best midfield combinations, in Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic, and Milan Badelj, in the tournament, Croatia have once again marked as the team to watch out for. However, coach Ante Cacic will hope that his team can be more clinical in front of the
An underwhelming debut for Northern Ireland
It was perhaps understandable as well. It was their first appearance ever
Michael O'Neill went into this match with three center backs, with Shane Ferguson and Conor McLaughlin dropping back to make it a 5-man defense when they did not have the ball—which was for most of the game. This approach meant Norther Ireland managed just two shots in the whole of the 90 minutes, and the game was there for Poland to win. And they did so through Arkadiusz Milik's goal in the second half, and on the hindsight, they should have scored a lot more as well.
It was Poland's first ever win at the European championship. Four years back, when they hosted the Euro with Ukraine, they finished the group stage without a win—like they did back in the Euro 2008 as well. Their last win in a tournament came in the 2006 World
Germany get the job done against Ukraine, but chinks are visible
The German side has been ravaged
With Ukraine dropping deep and defending for their lives, Germany enjoyed a lot of possession with Toni Kroos dominating the center of the park. However, they needed a set-piece to score a goal. Shkodran Mustafi headed in a free-kick from Kroos in the 19th minute to give Germany the lead in what was an underwhelming display by the reigning world champions in the first half. In fact, Ukraine could have, and perhaps should have, scored 2-3 goals towards the end of the first half, and Germany
With a 2-0 win, Germany emerged as the early leaders of Group C, however, Joachim Low will have a few concerns to address before their next game. The defence, especially on the wide areas, looked vulnerable, while Draxler seems to be the only player with pace in the lineup he opted for in their opening game.
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