Spain and Germany out for the kill in the 'group of death'.
In the first of many double game days of Euro 2022, Group B got underway.
With tournament favourites Spain, chronically successful Germany, Euro 2017 finalists Denmark, as well as Finland who are a bit more of an unknown entity, Group B has been attracting the most eyes. Germany and Spain asserted their dominance to all of those eyes.
Spain 4-1 Finland
Spain prove that they can go direct when required.
Spain vs Finland kicked the day off in Milton Keynes, in front of a record crowd of 16,819, for a group stage game without a home nation at a European Championships.
There was a momentary scare for Spain when Finland took the lead through Sallstromm a mere 50 seconds into the game. One ball over the top quite literally cracked the entire Spanish team open. However, it only took 5 minutes for Spain to get going, their tiki taka a harsh contrast to Finland’s well-drilled, direct style.
Spain’s goals didn’t come in their usual manner, they were looking far more dangerous from set pieces, rather than with the ball on the ground.
They got their equaliser shortly after having a goal disallowed. Mariona Caldentey swinging in a corner and Paredes unleashing all of her frustration at the early lapse, with a booming header to level the score.
Spain's second came five minutes before half time. Mapi Leon, (who was excellent), whipped a ball into the box which Bonmati,(who was more than excellent), headed home well. The defending from Finland wasn’t great mind, its like they forgot Bonmati was there.
It was rather an onslaught, Finland defended their box well enough most of the time. Korpela made some good saves, particularly in the second half.
Spain did get a third though, making it a hat trick of headers on 76 minutes, this time Lucia Garcia from another set piece.
That looked to be that until the dying seconds when a rather tired and reckless Finland challenge gave Spain a penalty. Caldentey struck as perfect a penalty as you could hope to strike.
Spain look good, of course there’s a long way to go and no disrespect to Finland, but Spain will face better opposition. But Spain are hitting the same levels at times without two of their key players (none other than Hermoso and Putellas) and still look to have a lot of room to improve.
Germany 4-0 Denmark
Germany make a statement (and a half).
Next was Germany vs Denmark. Germany had been overlooked a touch going into this tournament, they won't be now.
Where to begin? The game was frenetic and suitably chaotic from minute one.
it was end to end for the first 5 minutes until Rauch clanged the bar twice for Germany in the space of 3 minutes.
Germany were throwing the kitchen sink at it, eventually getting the goal that had been coming, with 21 minutes gone. Lina Magull's endeavour meant that she got a fortunate ricochet when pressing high, but there was nothing fortunate about the finish. She lashed the ball into the top corner with conviction.
Germany were structured, organised and hardworking. Denmark could not handle it.
Somehow it was only 1-0 at half time. Germany didn't allow Denmark to get going.
Germany's intensity continued into the second half. Schuller made it two with a header from a corner. Christensen was in no man's land a touch but it was a good enough header.
Alexandra Popp came on at the hour mark, just what Denmark needed, to unbelievably, make her European Championship debut.
As Denmark started to tire, Germany started to turn it on even more, they hit the woodwork for the fourth (!) time in the game, before having a goal from Svenja Huth disallowed for offside.
Deservingly Germany got a third, then a fourth. Lattwein absolutely slammed in a third after some, lets say, not amazing defending from the Danish. Not to long later Popp headed in a fourth. Very wholesome.
Just to make matters worse for Denmark, Kuhl, one of their most promising players,
got her second yellow card 20 minutes after coming on, and her tournament is potentially over.
Denmark didn't really hit the heights they could do. Most importantly, they couldn't get Pernille Harder into the game. But Germany really were just very, very good.
If Germany and Spain can keep that level up, its very ominous for the rest of the teams in the tournament. They play each other on Tuesday, in what could very much be the game of the group stage (and maybe a dress rehearsal for the final).