Down The Wings

Manchester United Fan Blog

Euro 2020 Matchday 1 Manchester United Review

It’s been an eventful start to Europe’s major international competition. In what’s only been a week since the first kick-off between Italy and Turkey, we’ve already seen some fine performances, sensational strikes and some questionable decisions. There was obviously the tragic incident of Christian Eriksen’s Cardiac arrest which was dealt with amazingly by the on-pitch officials and medical staff. We hope he can make a full recovery.

From a Manchester United perspective, it’s been a mixed bag but still very positive. Some players found themselves on the sidelines when they’d have hope to have started, others fell to injury and have had to withdraw, and some stole the show completely showing why they are still one of the very best.

Here’s a quick look at how United’s finest performed in their opening fixtures.

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Daniel James was the first to take to the stage of Euro 2020. Wales drew 1-1 against the Swiss in Baku while United’s very own speedy winger was the standout player for the Dragons. Playing on the left-wing, James had to overcome the challenge of Kevin Mbabu. United fans should know Mbabu well, the right-back was a constant threat when Mbabu’s former employers Young Boys hosted the Reds. Despite the Swiss full-backs attempts his speed was no match for Daniel James’ who ran him ragged. James making a nuisance of himself with his directness ensured he was the most fouled player on the pitch. The key takeaway from James’ performance was his willingness to constantly take on his man and put balls into the box on his left foot. Something he seems more reluctant to do that at United.

James was frustrated when he was substituted with 15 minutes to play, and rightly so, his performance merited the pleasure of a full game. However given the intense schedule and James’ just as intense performance, it was the correct decision.

Daniel James vs Switzerland: 7/10


England hold the bulk of United’s talent at this year’s championships with initially 6 members of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s squad being selected. The English hosted Croatia and rather unusually, there were no United players in the line-up. That was the first time since Euro ’92 where a Liverpool and a United player failed to make the starting 11 at a major competition.

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The one who would have had an axe to grind was Luke Shaw. Gareth Southgate opted for Kieran Trippier at left-back which could pose an interesting dynamic if Trippier does complete a move to Old Trafford. Luckily, Southgate’s strange decision did pay off as the left-hand side was reasonably secure and England managed a clean sheet. The only Red to get any kind of minutes was Marcus Rashford who came on for the final 15 minutes and ended the game donning the captain’s armband. As it was nothing but a cameo it would be harsh to provide a rating.

United’s long-sought-after transfer target Jadon Sancho failed to make the bench for Three Lions. Many expectant fans hoped it was something to do with the conspiracy of the Sancho transfer saga. However, the England boss later confirmed it was a matter of “balance”.

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Unfortunately, Scott McTominay must bear the burden of being the first United player to lose at Euro 2020. Saying that the Tartan army can feel somewhat aggrieved at the outcome of their opener against the Czech Republic as they lost 2-0. The scoreline is much more a reflection of the chances taken, rather than the dynamic of the game. While the Czechs dominated, Scotland were not without clear-cut chances of their own with one falling to Mctominay at the far post. As you can probably infer, he did not convert but to suggest Scotland are down and out after their first game would be ridiculous. Almost as ridiculous as Patrik Schick’s goal of the tournament nomination from the halfway line. It will take something truly extraordinary to beat that goal for the tournament’s best finish.

Scott Mctominay vs Czech Republic: 5/10

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In what should’ve been the Euros’ first United head-to-head clash, De Gea’s absence from the starting line-up ruined that. However, he didn’t really miss much. The 0-0 sums up the game perfectly. Sweden sat in and only offered a couple of Alexander Isak-led counterattacks while the Spanish huffed and puffed for 90 minutes while dominating possession. Victor Lindelof’s performance granted him the first official Man of the Match award to be won by a Manchester United player. Part of that solid backline you can’t fault that decision. However, it would’ve been nice for him to have kept Gerard Moreno under wraps in the Europa League final as well…

Victor Lindelof vs Spain: 7/10

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The final fixture of the first matchday promised fireworks with the teams and players on display. They didn’t disappoint. The first fixture saw Bruno Fernandes’ Portugal beat Hungary 3-0. Despite what the scoreline implies the goals didn’t start flying in till the final 10 minutes of normal time. Portugal had a number of opportunities to take the game. One such chance saw a brilliantly fizzed ball in from Bruno Fernandes to Cristiano Ronaldo that was lifted over the bar. United’s very own magnifico created the most chances of any player on the pitch and was unlucky not to get an assist and even a goal. Nevertheless, it was a strong opening game from Fernandes. Ronaldo’s brace will justly see him get the plaudits, an absolute machine.

Bruno Fernandes vs Hungary: 7.5/10

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Seeing Paul Pogba catalyse a 1-0 victory, that should and could’ve been more brings some sadness as a United fan. For a number of reasons, the Pogba that turns up for France isn’t the one we’ve seen nearly enough of at Old Trafford. Pogba was the quintessential midfield general perfectly foiled by the engine of his midfield partner N’golo Kante. Pogba found himself all over the pitch, making more ball recoveries than anyone in the opening round of the competition. Not only was his work rate essential in the victory, but it was also a masterclass in passing. From long switches of play to trivela’s to open up defences and result in goals to lofted pings forward for Kylian Mbappe to enjoy, Pogba was the man vs Germany. The midfielder’s performance was so good Rudiger had to have a bite…

Paul Pogba vs Germany: 8.5/10

What to look forward to in Matchday 2

What we can look forward to in the second round of fixtures is a United head-to-head. Or so we hope. Marcus Rashford, Luke Shaw and Harry Maguire could be involved as Scotland take on England at Wembley wit Scott Mctominay in line to feature also.

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