Well what a first day that was. Seven goals, two red cards, a penalty miss. The most goals in an opening day since 1960. Don’t think we could have asked for a better start. Greece did well to come back and get a draw, it would be surprising not to see Salpingidis start the second game. They could have easily won that game after being dominated for the first half. Giorgios Samaras should be nowhere near that team.
Not the worst start for one of the home nations, a point is not a disaster but puts some pressure on them to get something off the Russians. If they can repeat the first half performance and avoid the second half showing then you never know. Was impressed with Rybus before he came off, thought he looked a good player.
Performance of the day has to go to Alan Dzagoev and his Russian team, they were superb, totally dominated the Czech Republic at times and with Kerzhakov not having an absolute nightmare it could have been 6 or 7 instead of the four goals they did get. Arshavin had a fantastic game, looked really in the mood. Denisov was quality in the midfield too.
For the Czech side, they need to take some positives from the second half. Pilar looks a very dangerous winger, Baros was typically Baros. He surely can’t be their best striker, if so they will finish last in this group.
On to the games:
NETHERLANDS v DENMARK
The Group of Death kicks off with the Dutch against the Danes, the same match that kicked off both sides tournament in South Africa two years ago. The Dutch found it tough then, and should find the same difficult game today. Will it be Huntelaar or van Persie, will it be Sneijder or van der Vaart, big decisions from a team that are one of the favourites.
Expect Denmark to give Holland a good game but in the end falter, and the Dutch to pick up all three points. Of course watch out for Christian Eriksen for the Danes, much talked about star at Ajax.
RESULT: NETHERLANDS 2 DENMARK 1
GERMANY v PORTUGAL
Massive game to finish the evening. Two of the competition favourites come together in the opening game and it will be crucial for either side not to lose. The Germans will start slight favourites, favourites for the game and of coruse favourites for the competition. If one team are to stop the German machine then it could just be Portugal. Their success will depend on the form of Cristiano Ronaldo but also how well Moutinho and Meireles play and I think Pepe and Alves could be quite dodgy at the back.
Although Germany have the likes of Gotze and Reus coming through, it looks like the same attacking threat from South Africa will start. Klose should get the nod ahead of Mario Gomez, but two years older, it might be sooner rather than later that we see if Gomez can perform on the biggest stage. I do fancy both to trouble the Portuguese defence though.
RESULT: GERMANY 2 PORTUGAL 0
Throughout the tournament I’ll give myself ONE point for a correct result, and THREE points for a correct score. So from 31 games that’s a possible 93 points. I think the target for a successful tournament will be 40.
Only one point from Day One. Russia with the win