Three names come to my head when I think about the first round of the competition: Shevchenko, the amazing intemporal leader of a fine Ukraine; Modrić, an excellent classical number 10, game pacer and thinker for a somewhat surprising Croatia; and, above them all, the astonishing Dzagoev, a young and brilliant playmaker who, along with famous Arshavin, turns Russia’s attacking midfield into a beautiful and powerful machine. I am quite impressed with this yet 21 year old – turns 22 on June 17th – Ossetian.
As for the teams, in Group A Russia is clearly the strongest and only a dramatic happening can keep the Russians from going ahead. Greece showed some resistance, but they are just too weak in the attack. Poland and Czech Republic will probably fight over the second place.
In Group B, which seems to be very hard to predict since the teams are all quite strong, Germany took the lead and Holland, considered the other favourite, lost to the underdog Denmark. Can’t call it a real surprise, but it sure wasn’t the most expected result. Portugal did fine, but couldn’t get a goal and this is becoming a problem: Portuguese scored only once in the last four games.
In Group C, I am very pleased about my prediction on Spain vs. Italy, though I won’t be commenting on the game, or else I could be writing an essay on boredom right now – Iniesta, always Iniesta, to be the exception. Croatia made the day and Ireland doesn’t have what it takes to be there, except for the amazing supporters.
Group D proved to be very strong with really good squads playing a very enjoyable football. My favourite is France - they should have won that game. England seems to be a mature and dangerous team. Sweden may be the weakest link and Ukraine clearly has a word to say on the going through issue.