Group F matchday 1 review

Group F: Matchday 1

By Sam Feierabend

Matchday 1 in Group F saw the defending champions Portugal face off with Hungary in a packed Puskas Arena, whilst the last two world champions, France and Germany, squared off in Munich.

Hungary vs Portugal, Budapest.

Substitutes:

65′: Schafer out, Nego in.

77′: Sallai out, Schon in.

78′: Kleinheisler out, Siger in.

88′: Fiola out, K Varga in.

90′: Nagy out, R Varga in.

Substitutes:

71′: B Silva out, R Silva in.

81′: Carvalho out, R Sanches in.

81′: Jota out, A Silva in.

89′: Fernandes out, Moutinho in.

Stars:

★★ Ronaldo

★ R Silva, Guerreiro, Ad Szalai.

Defending champions Portugal dispatched Hungary in front of a capacity crowd in Budapest to get their title defence off to a flying start. Raphael Guerreiro opened the scoring late on, whilst Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice to become the Euros all time leading goalscorer.

Hungary, for the most part were defensively solid and nearly took an unlikely point off the champions. In the first half Portugal were limited to half chances, with Diogo Jota firing straight at Peter Gulasci in the Hungarian goal. Hungary were happy to sit back and let their captain and striker Adam Szalai make a nuisance of himself upfront which nearly paid off at the end of the half when he won a free kick that he subsequently headed straight at Rui Patricio.

Yet as the second half wore on, Portugal never panicked and eventually capitalised on tiring Hungarian legs on 85 minutes. Guerreiro was somewhat fortunate to see his shot from the edge of the box deflect past the stricken Gulasci to open the scoring. Almost immediately from kick off Renato Sanches was bundled over by Orban in the box only for Portugal’s star man Cristiano Ronaldo to score his 10th goal at the Euro finals.

The champions saved their best for last though, as a stunning 33 pass move found its way to Ronaldo who coolly rounded Gulasci to put gloss on a scoreline that somewhat seems harsh on Hungary. Portugal though get their title defence off to a confident start, and in doing so matching their number of wins in 90 minutes from 2016.

France vs Germany, Munich.

Substitutes:

89′: Benzema out, Tolisso in.

90′: Rabiot out, Dembele in.

Substitutes:

74′: Gnabry out, Werner in.

74′: Havertz out, Sane in.

88′: Ginter out, Can in.

88′: Gosens out, Volland in.

Stars:

★★ Pogba

★ Kante, Mbappe, Kimpembe, Gosens.

2018 world champions France overcame Germany in matchday 1’s standout fixture, with Mats Hummels turning a Lucas Hernandez cross into his own net to give Les Bleus the perfect start to their campaign.

With so much talent on the pitch, many predicted this Munich clash would be the star fixture of the week. It was France who took the initial stronghold in the game, controlling possession and threatening first. It took until the 20th minute for the deadlock to be broken, when Paul Pogba feathered a delightful ball over the German defence for the oncoming Lucas Hernandez to square, only for the unfortunate Mats Hummels to turn the ball into his own net.

The game quickly became the Paul Pogba show, with the Manchester United man being given the freedom to advance forward and support Benzema and Mbappe in attack and in early press. This freedom was allowed due to the presence of N’golo Kante expertly sweeping in front of the French backline, breaking up any German advance.

As the game progressed, France seemed comfortable enough to sit back and allow Germany to pressure them, hoping to hit on the counter. Germany created few chances, though, their best falling to Serge Gnabry who fired over when he should have hit the target. Playing a narrow front three allowed wing backs Robin Gosens and Joshua Kimmich to join attacks; it was Gosens in particular who impressed with his far post runs and pinpoint deliveries into the box.

France’s game management was impeccable, and saw the result out at 1-0 despite having two goals ruled out for offside which would have added some gloss to the score line. Ultimately, it was the start they needed in such a tough group, and a group that they can hopefully secure qualification for the knockouts from against Hungary on Saturday. For Germany, they need to get a result against Portugal, which has to start with creating chances and capitalising on possession they may have.