The 2020 Euros (yes, a 2020 tournament being played in 2021) group stage concluded today. It is safe to say that the group stage games did not disappoint in general.
With the knockout stage starting this Saturday, here’s a summary of the good, the bad, the surprise, the disappointment, etc. of the group stage.
The ‘Azzurri’ Off to a Good Start
Without a doubt, ‘the good’ award has to go to Italy.
After failing to qualify to the World Cup in 2018, the Azzurri had an impressive group stage. The hiring of Roberto Mancini was a match made in heaven as both Italy and Mancini needed to bounce back from their failures in the past.
The ex-Manchester City coach led Italy to a perfect group stage by winning all 3 games, scoring 7 goals, and not receiving a single goal. What’s more impressive is that Italy has now equaled their 30-game unbeaten run in 1939.
Can their impressive form lead them to their first European championship since 1968?
Get Well Soon Eriksen!
The ‘bad’ of the group stage had to be Christian Eriksen’s incident.
During Denmark vs Finland game, the whole world saw Eriksen collapse to the floor minutes before half time. The Inter Milan midfielder had a cardiac arrest on the field, where he lost conscious and stopped breathing for a couple moments.
For 10 minutes, all 10,000 fans in Copenhagen were united, waiting for the Danish player to be brought back to life.
Since then, Eriksen has now recovered, has received proper treatment, and is now with his family. Some things are bigger than the sport itself.
Turkey the Dark Horses?
The disappointment of the group stage (and of the tournament) has to be Turkey. The Turkish nation came into the tournament as the dark horses after an impressive qualifying process.
They let many, including myself, down after losing every game in the group stage. Additionally, Turkey only managed to score 1 goal and received 8 goals.
Note to self: never buy into the hype again.
The knockout stage is now ahead of us, with two games this Saturday, June 26.
Gareth Bale’s Wales will face an inspired Denmark at 9:00 AM PST, and Italy will try to continue their unbeaten run against the ‘real’ dark horses, Austria.
Let’s hope that the knockout stage is even better than the group stage!