Another week where Europe’s elite has clashed, further tantalising our footballing tastebuds, leaving us wanting more.
The wall-to-wall games we’ve experienced since the Eden of this year’s Euros will slowly come to an end, with that we could also see some of our favourite Reds’ hopes of holding the famous Henri Delaunay trophy cease. However, as long as there are still United players in the competition, the coverage here at Down The Wings will continue.
So, after the second round of matches, how did Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s aces get on?
WalesEmbed from Getty Images
As per the last round of fixtures, Daniel James’ Wales kicked off United’s Matchday 2. The Dragons took themselves and a small collection of fans to Baku to see them beat Turkey 2-0.
It was a great game. At least the parts that were visible due to some shoddy UEFA coverage delivery. And like in the first round, Daniel James was an integral part of the victory. His pace set the tone of how Wales would approach proceedings, relentlessly.
There was tremendous amounts of pressure placed on a Turkey side that many tipped as their “dark horses”. James on the left-hand side contributed with crosses and also some outstanding workrate. Wales could’ve really run away with the game, creating so many chances but it was their famous partnership of Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey that linked up to put Wales ahead. Later, after Bale missed a penalty, the forward showed his big game nouse, ingeniously setting up Connor Robert’s for the second.
Wales’ win means they’ve all but secured a passage into the round of 16 before taking on Italy on Matchday 3. A passage made possible by James who even managed to clock the second-fastest time in the competition thus far at 33.5 km/h – breakneck speed.
Daniel James vs Turkey: 7/10
SwedenEmbed from Getty Images
The strange scheduling of fixtures at the Euros meant that Manchester United’s number two Victor Lindelof was the second Red to feature in Matchday 2.
Sweden were responsible for one of the most tedious games at this Euros so far – or so we thought (keep reading [England v Scotland]). The Sweded have a conservative style that keeps them compact out of possession but ready to attack constantly with Isak and co. Saying that Sweden did take the game to Slovakia in their 1-0 victory. Lindelof played his part with another strong performance driving out of the back into midfield to ensure overloads.
Victor Lindelof vs Slovakia: 6.5/10
England – ScotlandEmbed from Getty Images
If I had a pound for every time, I’ve seen “that Gazza goal” in the last week I’d be a very rich man. I’ve honestly seen Paul Gascoigne’s piece of individual brilliance more than some of my family members. The build-up did not deserve such a pedestrian 0-0 performance from an England perspective.
Gareth Southgate made two changes to the side he fielded vs Croatia, both were fullbacks which isn’t very surprising considering his obvious affection towards the position. The changes saw United’s very own Luke Shaw come in at left-back and Reece James take up the right-back position.Embed from Getty Images
Steve Clarke had his Scotsmen set up to deal with England’s wealth of attacking talent which meant Scott McTominay was moved into a back three. Funnily enough, the two United boys could be argued to have shone one of the brightest for their respective countries. Luke Shaw recovered from a Lyndon Dykes chopping challenge early on to put in a solid but disciplined display. McTominay had to relax his nerves after almost gifting England a goal after he was caught in possession. The lofty Scotsman was dominant.
A goalless result justified the feel of the game. Scotland played well and we’re definitely the happier of the two sides to pick up a draw but their quality was lacking just as England’s intent was. Marcus Rashford played 15 minutes Jack Grealish played 30 and Jadon Sancho played zero which tells you everything you need to know.
Luke Shaw vs Scotland: 7/10
Scott McTominay: 6.5/10
FranceEmbed from Getty Images
The French were almost embarrassed in Budapest, as Paul Pogba looked on as Raphael Varane and Benjamin Pavard were beaten for Hungary to take the lead. Hungary’s goal was unsurprisingly surprising as it went totally against the run of play.
With N’golo Kante patrolling the middle of the park, Pogba could drift wide like he loves to do and provide creativity in more dangerous areas. The likes of Karim Benzema, Mbappe, as well as Pogba, missed some great opportunities, only for Fiola to go down the other end, leading to one of the best goal celebrations in the competition so far.
France, fortunately, got back into it, but Pogba wasn’t involved in any attempt to get the win following Griezmann’s equaliser. He was substituted with 15 to go.
Paul Pogba vs Hungary: 6.5/10
The Portuguese find themselves in trouble. They were on the wrong end of a 4-2 defeat against the Germans in Munich.Embed from Getty Images
As much as it hurts to admit, Bruno Fernandes was anonymous. He didn’t affect the game, not obviously anyway. He was poor. The game passed the midfielder by. At United, when he’s not playing well he still affects proceedings with some passion-filled work rate but even that was missing today.
Germany looked at it from the off but had a goal chalked off after a VAR review concluded that Robin Fodens’ goal was offside. Ronaldo responded to the German onslaught with a well-worked counter-attacking goal. Portugal’s number 7 had to see his fine work undone by a comedy of own goals which meant Portugal were behind in no time. Kai Havertz scored a third before Gosens could finally get on the team sheet. Diogo Jota scored to make it 4-2 just following the hour mark, minutes after Fernandes was hooked off.
Bruno Fernandes vs Germany: 3/10
What to look forward to in Matchday 3?
Group F is the gift that keeps on giving. After the heavyweight clashes, we’ve seen so far none come close to the holders of the European Championship against the World Champions. A replay of the 2016 final and also a clash between two of United’s talismanic figures in Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba. Wednesday night, be there.
A point from the Welsh will see them wrap up second place in group A. The same stands for United’s English contingent who take on the Czech Republic while McTominay and Scotland have to beat Croatia to finish third with the chance of progressing as one of the best third-place sides. De Gea and Spain are in trouble after their 1-1 draw means it’s still all to play for in group E.