Sporting Kansas City goalkeeper Tim Melia picked up and threw Seattle’s Cristian Roldan to the ground, wrestling-style, in his side’s 2-1 win.
Match Day 1 of Euro 2020 rounds out with ‘group of death’ action, as the voice of the crowd continues to perform solidly in the tipping stakes.
Hungary will start as rank outsiders against reigning champs Portugal in Budapest and Munich plays host to the mouth-watering clash between France and Germany.
In what looks a nasty group, a win first up could be key and the value of topping the group can never be underestimated when it comes to the crossover that occurs before the knock-out phase.
Good luck with your tips for the final games in Match Day 1 action and be sure to enter them in the sheet below to have a say as the solidly performing voice of the people.
Here is the way the experts see the two matches unfolding tonight.
Unlike virtually every other game at these Euros, Hungary’s clash with Portugal will be played in front of a full house in Budapest. That means the defending champions will have to silence a hostile home crowd if they’re to get their campaign off to a winning start.
Portugal are aided by the fact Hungary are missing their best player in Dominik Szoboszlai, and with A Selecao one of the most star-studded teams in the tournament, it’s hard to see how Cristiano Ronaldo and co don’t silence a partisan Hungarian crowd and claim all three points.
Talk about the chance to make a statement. France may be favourites to win Euro 2020, but first they have to overcome the might of Germany in a Group F blockbuster.
The Germans should have given coach Joachim Löw the flick long ago and while they’ve still got plenty of big names – including Chelsea starlet Kai Havertz – they’ll go into this game as underdogs.
France have kicked off their tournament with their usual degree of petty in-fighting, but they’ll be looking to get off to a winning start. They will also be helped by the crowd cap in Munich.
The Euro 2016 winners will head into their opening match against Hungary as firm favourites and win comfortably, yet also know that two mighty large hurdles lie ahead and that their fate in Group F rests on those performances.
There is too much class in the Portuguese to even think the Hungarians can challenge them and it should be a win by multiple goals.
Many people selected France as their tournament favourites, as I did, thus it is impossible to tip against them in their opening fixture against the Germans.
Personally, I don’t think Germany will have a particularly strong tournament and the French have a dynamic flair that will certainly worry what has been a leaky and unconvincing defence in recent times.
Finalists in 2016, Portugal will be ready to fire against a Hungary team who scraped into Euro 2020 with an injury time winner in the play-offs and who will be very happy to be rubbing shoulders with some of Europe’s powerhouses in this group of death.
Portugal’s squad is like the wish-list of Newcastle United fans once the Saudi takeover goes through, quality in every position.
Bruno Fernandes and Cristiano Ronaldo together is an exciting prospect that will deliver immediately in this encounter, Ronaldo ending up with both goals in a 2-0 win.
France versus Germany is going to be massive. There’s so much history between these two nations in major tournaments.
France won in 2016 to reach the final, Germany won in Brazil in the quarter-finals in 2014 and Harald Schumacher is still a villain.
It is a treat to see these two teams come up against each other in the group stages, perhaps a reflection of how far Germany are off the pace at the moment.
In Serge Gnabry they have a player who can destroy defenders and he may have some joy against Benjamin Pavard, but France are just too slick and polished and will ease through the German defence with a simple change of gears.
N’Golo Kante to boss the midfield and Karim Benzema to upstage Kylian Mbappe and score a brace in a comfortable 2-0 win.
The final placings outcome for this so called ‘group of death’ have important implications for creating harder or more comfortable pathways through the knock out stages among the two or three teams that progress.
Hungary have improved tremendously since our Socceroos beat them in a lead-up friendly for Russia 2018. The 2016 Euro had been their first appearance in the finals of a major tournament for 30 years.
The ‘Nemzeti Tizenegy’ is undefeated in the past 11 games including seven wins and playing at home in Bucharest is an advantage against the reigning title holders. However, they are missing rising young star striker Dominik Szoboszlai due to injury.
Portugal has won 15 of its last 21 games including numerous high scoring away successes. I’m expecting them to overcome a slow start in the game and to eventually prevail with another hugely influential performance from superstar captain Cristiano Ronaldo.
As current World Champions, there’s an argument that the France squad has since become even stronger and their recent form has been sparkling.
There are very few if any weaknesses right across the park and they have the most lethal attacking midfield and forwards combination in international football. That Olivier Giroud has become mostly a super sub says much of their depth.
Meanwhile, Germany the unrivalled giants of Europe over football’s long history, come into this edition with unconvincing recent form. This included a shock home loss to North Macedonia and being demolished by Spain late last year.
Yet only a fool would write off the ‘Die Nationalmannschaft’ they embark on the farewell tournament for Joachim Low ahead of stepping down after 15 years at the helm. Playing at home in Munich is also a plus and so they’ll be no excuses against one of their biggest rivals in the world game.
I am expecting goals to flow in the second half after a cautious and tight opening, with Les Bleus to eventually prevail.
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|FRA vs GER||FRA||FRA||FRA||FRA||?|