The UEFA EURO 2020 group stage enters Matchday 2 on Wednesday. We preview the action as Finland play Russia, Turkey meet Wales, and Italy take on Switzerland.
Finland’s muted reaction after winning their first ever game in a major tournament on Saturday said it all – football was an afterthought. The task of retraining focus since then has proved a challenge, and a Russia team smarting from their 3-0 opening-night defeat by Belgium will provide another one in St Petersburg. Coach Stanislav Cherchesov accepted his side were second best against one of the pre-tournament favourites; he won’t accept that against neighbours Finland. Only a win will satisfy Russia.
Key stat: Russia have won all four games against Finland since becoming an independent nation in 1992, scoring 15 goals in the process and conceding only one.
If Finland must beware the wounded animal, so too Wales. Turkey were swatted aside by Italy in Rome on Friday, increasingly confined to their own half, short of pace and unable to find an attacking outlet – “we couldn’t get forward,” coach Şenol Güneş bemoaned. The Crescent-Stars should enjoy more space on Wednesday, and improve the supply line to the evergreen Burak Yılmaz, but their opponents possess a formidable attacking spearhead of their own in Kieffer Moore, their headband hero on Saturday. Underestimate him and Wales at your peril.
In their last match against Turkey in 1997, Wales twice surrendered the lead before losing a remarkable game 6-4. As much as neutral observers would love to see ten goals again, Wednesday’s encounter should be a considerably more cautious affair.
Key stat: There were ten goals the last time these sides met 24 years ago, Hakan Şükür scoring four of them as Turkey triumphed 6-4 in Istanbul!
Italy purred like one of the sports cars for which the country is so famous in their opener, laying down a real marker with a 3-0 win against a Turkey outfit many were billing as dark horses. Northern neighbours Switzerland will offer a very different test. The Swiss reached the final four of the inaugural UEFA Nations League and have become regulars in the last 16 of major tournaments. The pace of Breel Embolo will likely ask questions of the defence not posed to Italy in the tournament curtain-raiser.
Key stat: Italy have won their last nine fixtures without conceding a goal, scoring 28 along the way.
All times CET