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We’re a game down in Euro 2020 and it’s fair to say that it’s already been a tournament of highs and lows. Some nations have really thrown their hat into the ring as a major contender, while others, such as Croatia, have seemingly looked like they’re on the decline following a big World Cup just three years ago.
But after one game, which are the nations that are looking good, and potentially on track to be real contenders in just a few weeks time?
Italy got off to the perfect start, and in a country that invented bingo, their cards are certainly now marked by the rest of the competition. To put it into a bingo site like analogy, the calls were loud and clear by Roberto Mancini and his side delivered a performance against the Turkish that had all Azzurri fans and pundits going, “bingo”, Mancini really has got it right after the nation struggled over the past few tournaments.
England looked assured on Sunday afternoon and Gareth Southgate will be pleased with how comfortable his young side looked against the experience of Croatia. It certainly sent a message to the rest of the pack with the likes of Kalvin Phillips and Raheem Sterling being particularly effective. The squad is talented and they have the depth to stay fresh, select teams to suit the opposition, and of course be one of the most exciting attacking prospects in the competition.
Netherlands are like Italy in that they’ve struggled to hit the heights of yesteryear in more recent tournaments. They’re back though and got their tournament underway in exciting fashion with a win over Ukraine. The better team for large spells of the fixture, they also showed the resilience to bounce back and win after their opponents hit two quick goals to equalise. It’s their toughest fixture out of the way, and they should be comfortably into the knockout stages, where anything can happen.
Belgium were already being considered major contenders, but their dismantling of Russia would suggest they’re here for business more than some were giving them credit for. An ageing defence and relatively uninspiring midfield had seen many write the Red Devils off, but they certainly hit the ground running in their opener and the potency of Romelu Lukaku will certainly keep them in the running against any other nation in the tournament.
Of course, both France and Germany are always going to be contenders, while Portugal and Spain have good squads that could see them beat anyone on their day. It’s as open as a book at present, and the first round of fixtures have certainly ensured it stays that way.