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Fearsome Belgium, Eriksen scare… five takeaways from Euro 2020 group stage

Fearsome Belgium, Eriksen scare… five takeaways from Euro 2020 group stage
June 24
17:13 2021

Sixteen nations have navigated the group stage backwater of the European championships. While overhyped England limped into the last eight, 35-year-old Luka Modric weaved magic for Croatia as Robert Lewandowski’s goals could not save Poland.

There were several talking points after three rounds of matches and we review the five prominent talking points following 13 days of Euro 2020.

The Eriksen scare and money-hungry UEFA

The world stopped when Christian Eriksen slumped and required on-field resuscitation complete with CPR and defibrillator to be revived. Fans in the stadium sobbed, teammates formed a wall around him and viewers at home hoped for the best outcome. Thankfully, it ended with smiles and gratitude as Denmark forged a siege mentality into the knockout phase.

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Eriksen discharged from hospital after 'successful operation'

On the flip side, this latest episode showed that UEFA is central to player burnouts and injuries following an already gruelling club campaign. News filtered in that the European football governing body gave Denmark little option to choose from once they confirmed that Eriksen was awake. Complete the abandoned Finland game soonest or suffer a technical loss with the squad’s psychological trauma thrown away at the expense of TV money.

Portugal over-reliant on Cristiano Ronaldo

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Because it worked in 2016 does not guarantee 2021. Ronaldo is 36 years old and while age is just a number to the fitness maniac, he relies on other players to make his mark. Of course, he has scored five goals in this tournament — the leading goalscorer — they have been from inside the box. Ronaldo had to run over 60 yards to finish off one of those goals and was involved in the buildup of another. However, penalties would not show up every match and the Selecao need to find backup plans fast.

Ronaldo breaks Euro goalscoring record against Hungary as France defeat Germany

While CR7 hugs headlines garnished with personal records, Portugal has a team that can hold its own when toe-to-toe with any nation. He was silenced by the Germans and it could take something special to keep up his highest goalscorer tag in the round of 16 against Begium, the number one ranked football nation. Portugal’s supporting cast needs to show up.

Fearsome Belgium coming

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Aside from the emotional blip in the first half against Denmark, Belgium waltzed through the group stage. The Red Devils steamrolled opponents with an aura of confidence and invincibility albeit with measured inclinations.

Euro 2020: Netherlands overcome Austria as Denmark lose to Belgium

Romelu Lukaku showed flashes of brilliance upfront while Kevin de Bruyne strides forward like he created the master plan. Throw in a fast-improving Eden Hazard and it is clear that Roberto Martinez’s side is saving energy for the knockout phase. Unless Ronaldo can pull a rabbit out of the hat here, there is no stopping Belgium. They are about to hit top form at the right time!

Group of Death lives up to expectations

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When Germany, France and Portugal were drawn in Group F, permutations were about which country would bow out at the first hurdle but the unexpected happened. Ronaldo lifted Portugal, France blew hot and cold while Germany sneaked in at the expense of a Hungary side that held its own.

 

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All three showed flashes of their abilities: Pogba always bosses the midfield while the Mbappe-Benzema attack is an ongoing work. Germany tore Portugal apart but Ronaldo keeps showing up in big moments, even if it is from the spot. Can these three go all the way?

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Resurgent powerhouses

Italy and the Netherlands, two traditional European and world football powerhouses have been impressive in this tournament. Roberto Mancini’s Azzurri won all three group games without conceding and are joint-second for goals scored (seven), behind only Netherlands (eight) who also had a 100% record as Frank de Boer is finally recovering his coaching pedigree.

Italy last won a major tournament in the 2006 FIFA World Cup while it was Euro 1988 for the Netherlands, and their performances have been a breath of fresh air at this tournament. Both have winnable round of 16 matches and one could sneak all the way through, perhaps.

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