Saturday promises to be a busy day at Euro 2020 with Spain, Portugal, Germany and France all in action.
Former world champions Germany are under fierce pressure ahead of their crucial match against current European champions Portugal.
After their failure to get past the group stage of the 2018 World Cup, Joachim Low’s Germany lost 1-0 to France in their Euro opener and yet another loss to the defending champions. would again leave them facing early elimination.
The Germans have a home advantage in Munich, but recent performances show they will struggle to win the last heavyweight clash in Group F.
🇵🇹 Cristiano Ronaldo with his 105th and 106th career international goals, the 2nd all-time just 3 goals behind Ali Daei, and now his 11th Euro goal, more than any other player in the history of the European Championship ‘Europe # Euro2020 pic.twitter.com/Bn7F7BXjCv
– Walid Ziani (@ bylka613_) June 15, 2021
Despite this, Low – who will retire at the end of the tournament – believes his team can rise to the challenge.
“The pressure is always the same no matter who we play against, and we can handle it,” Low said on Friday.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal arrive on German soil after a convincing 3-0 victory over Hungary in Budapest and another victory will secure them a place in the round of 16 ahead of their last group outing against France.
Ronaldo will be in the spotlight again after becoming the top scorer in European Championship history with a brace against Hungary leaving him with 11 goals in five tournaments.
With 106 goals in 176 games for Portugal, Ronaldo is just three goals off the all-time international record set by Ali Daei who scored 109 goals for Iran between 1993 and 2006.
France eyes on progress
Meanwhile, France are expected to build on winning over Germany with another over Hungary in Saturday’s opener.
Hungary expects crowds approaching 60,000 at Puskas Arena, the only Euro 2020 venue without capacity restrictions due to COVID-19.
“If a team is worth 900m euros and we are 60m euros, you will probably see that difference on the pitch,” admitted Hungarian coach Marco Rossi as he considered the prospect of facing Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann and Paul Pogba.
The France team will go for a fourth consecutive clean sheet with the Blues appearing sharper with the recalled Karim Benzema, who has inserted effortlessly since his return to the national team after nearly six years following a falling out with trainer Didier Deschamps in the middle of a gang sex scandal.
Benzema’s technique and playing readiness help him click along with Mbappe and Griezmann. The trio work for each other, forming a marauding front unit that prevents opposing teams from quickly fainting from behind.
“When you see Kylian lose the ball and get it back five seconds later, Karim working hard and Antoine falling really deep, that gives us strength,” said French defender Raphaël Varane. “Then we cheer them on from the back, or give them good passes to attack.”
Group E becomes very interesting
1. Spain will have to win with a margin of 2 goals to dominate the group before MD3, 1 goal from the margin and they will remain behind Sweden in 2nd position
2. A loss against Poland means that Slovakia against Spain will potentially be a knockout in MD3 👀
– FPL GOAT (@ FPLGOAT7) June 18, 2021
In the Group E game, Poland know they will see less of the ball than Spain on Saturday, but still hope to injure Luis Enrique’s side with their own pass, coach Paulo Sousa said.
The Poles failed to improve on their poor record in the big tournament opener on Monday as they lost 2-1 to lower-ranked Slovakia and now need at least one point against Spain to still have a chance to qualify for the knockout stage.
“We have to focus on hurting Spain not only with counterattacks, with the transition, but also creating opportunities with possession,” Sousa told reporters on Friday.
The European champions 2008 and 2012 will for their part seek to sign a timid start to the tournament after being held in check by Sweden in their last opening match.
Spain captain Sergio Busquets will travel with the team after being cleared to join the squad on Friday after testing positive for COVID-19.