I would never be so arrogant as to pretend to understand what it is like to be judged, mocked and discriminated against as a gay person in Australian society.
Match Day 2 of Euro 2020 begins with giant-killers Finland holding all the cards and a chance to skip clear in their group with a win against Russia.
Turkey and Wales will be desperate in Group A action, knowing a win is needed to retain hopes of a top-two finish, and Italy will look to place an exclamation point on their opening win of the tournament.
The voice of the crowd, Texi Smith and Pablo Bateson held a slender lead heading into last night’s fixtures and the other experts had best get their games in order should they expect to challenge for the tipping title.
Good luck with your tips and be sure to enter them in the sheet below to have an important say in the ever wise voice of the fans.
Russia, draw, Italy
Finland stunned the Euros with that 1-0 win over Denmark in their group-stage opener, but the circumstances of that victory make it hard to really get a sense of their form. Russia, on the other hand, were poor in their 3-0 defeat to Belgium.
What should work in the Russians’ favour is not only the fact that this game once again takes place in Saint Petersburg, but also that they’ve beaten the Finns every time they’ve played. With this a do-or-die game for the Russians, they should come out all guns blazing at the Krestovsky.
Turkey will be disappointed with their tournament opener, with three second-half goals costing them dearly against Italy. They’ll hope for a better showing against Wales, but the trouble is they’re relying on veteran striker Burak Yilmaz and not much else for inspiration.
Wales look likely to play the role of tournament spoilers. They were second-best in their 1-1 draw with Switzerland but another stubborn rear-guard action should be enough to see them claim at least a point in faraway Baku.
Not only do Italy enjoy the benefit of playing another match at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome, but they do so on the back of a 3-0 win over Turkey.
They may find Switzerland a tougher nut to crack, but with Ciro Immobile having finally scored a goal at a major tournament and the Italians going into this game full of confidence, it’s hard to see how the Azzurri don’t walk away with all three points.
Switzerland will be disappointed not to have beaten Wales when they were clearly the better side, but this is a different prospect. They’ll need goalkeeper Yann Sommer to be at his best.
Finland, Wales, Italy
Call me a dreamer, but I’m jumping on board the Finnish bandwagon after their shock win on Match Day 1. Nothing would please me more than seeing a dark horse advance beyond the group stage considering so many major tournaments do tend to play out with an air of predictability.
Wales will beat Turkey in Baku based on little more than the fact that the Turks looked a little out of their depth against Italy just five days ago. Despite much talk around their young team being potentially dangerous, Gareth Bale and his allies may well find the goal that dismisses them from the tournament.
Italy did look good on the opening day and should account for Switzerland in a canter in Rome. What an advantage that has been for the Azzurri. The Swiss are solid but the Italians have some real class and look a final-four team, even at this early stage of the tournament.
Russia, Turkey, Italy
Group B is wide open following the incredible scenes in Copenhagen just a few days ago. Belgium will run away with it, but who will grab the second qualifying spot and a potential third place play-off? Finland have to get something from this game to stand a chance, but this is Russia’s to win, with the tough game out of the way.
Daler Kuzyayev with a deft finish to win the game in the second half, and Finland to miss some good chances as the game reaches its conclusion.
Turkey were blown away in the end by Italy, and they will expect to win against Wales to get their Euro experience back on track.
The Welsh soaked the pressure against Switzerland and a draw was an amazing result. The fairy tale ends here though for Robert Page’s team, despite a good fight.
Hakan Çalhanoğlu will fire Turkey into the lead. Daniel James will score the equaliser with a blazing run and shot, celebrating with his manager to heal any wounds. That man Burak Yilmaz will pounce on a loose clearance to win the game for Turkey and set up a fascinating end to this group stage.
Italy were so good in the second half against Turkey, stroking the ball around with perfection. Any doubters will have been thoroughly convinced by that performance and Italy should be on fire for this one too.
Nicolo Barella will set them away early with a crisp volley. Gianluigi Donnarumma will save a penalty from Ricardo Rodriguez in the opening stages of the second half, as the Italians come out half asleep, and Italy will have to weather a storm from the Swiss until a late breakaway goal seals the win in the last minute. Breel Embolo will win more fans with a series of powerful runs, but today belongs to the home team as Italy cruise into the group stages.
Draw, draw, Switzerland
Most assessments have Russia as hot favourites to beat Finland, yet I’m far from convinced – even with the game being played in Saint Petersburg.
The Finns’ opening win was largely influenced by their Danish opponents not being in a fit state to continue the game after the long delay following the sudden heart failure and thankfully resuscitation of Christian Eriksen. Still they are a resilient side who will relish the opportunity to take on their ‘ambitious’ bigger neighbour.
Russia provided little resistance against Belgium and will be under immense pressure to bounce back with a win to keep alive a realistic chance of progression beyond the group stage.
The result might come down to which of the main strikers, Artem Dzuyba for Russia and Teemu Pukki of Finland, can best seize their limited opportunities on goal. In a tight affair, a draw could well be the outcome.
Turkey underwhelmed in their loss at the hands of Italy, while Wales ground out a fortunate draw with Switzerland when VAR conveniently was put to sleep!
I’m expecting an improved performance from Turkey and the venue conditions in Baku should suit them even better. If they can contain the goal heading prowess of Welsh striker Keiffer Moore, then securing at least a draw is likely. Conversely, to keep their progression hopes alive, the Welsh will probably need to win ahead of a final group game versus Italy on June 20.
The Azzurri almost uncharacteristically were straight out of the blocks on Match Day 1 to blow Turkey away. So often slow starters in major tournaments, they will face a much stiffer challenge from a Swiss team has been in fine form since late 2020.
Although confidence in Italian ranks will be high, my prediction is for an ‘upset’ to favour Switzerland in a thriller at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome.
In our game of opinions, like on the park, fortune favours the bold.
|Match Day 2||Mike||Stuart||Texi||Pablo||The Crowd|
|HUN vs POR||POR||POR||POR||POR||POR|
|FRA vs GER||FRA||FRA||FRA||FRA||FRA|
|FIN vs RUS||RUS||FIN||RUS||Draw||?|
|TUR vs WAL||Draw||WAL||TUR||Draw||?|
|ITA vs SUI||ITA||ITA||ITA||SUI||?|