Following a relentless build-up, Euro 2016 finally begins this Friday. While we’re going to have the radio and iPlayer on the go all tournament (especially at work), we appreciate that not everyone has the time or inclination to watch every single minute of the month-long tournament.
So to help we’re going to be compiling a list of the top 5 matches every Gameweek during the group stages, so you know what not to miss. You can assume England games are a given but here’s the best of the rest for Gameweek 1: Friday 10th June – Tuesday 14th June.
France v Romania – Friday 10th June 20:00 – ITV
Well, it’s a fairly obvious one, isn’t it? Friday night is when things kick off at Euro 2016 when hosts France take on Romania. It’s not the closest contest on paper but the opening game always has a sense of occasion about it and we’re looking forward to seeing if France can shape up to their favourites billing. We have a hunch they might…
Germany v Ukraine – Sunday 12th June 20:00 – BBC
Germany might be second favourites with the bookies behind France to win Euro 2016 but we still make them the team to beat. They looked the best side from minute 1 in Brazil two years ago and they’ve not lost too much in the way of aging personnel. They still lack a centre forward with 86 year old Mario Gomez expected to lead the line once again, but they should still have too much for a fairly solid but unremarkable Ukrainian team.
Spain v Czech Rep – Monday 13th June 14:00 – ITV
Again, this isn’t a contest which should be close on paper but stranger things have happened in major tournaments and it’s no big secret Spain aren’t the team they once were. Not only that, the Czechs were promising in their qualifying, topping a group which meant the Netherlands failed to qualify for a major tournament for the first time since 2002. We’re not expecting a Czech Rep win but it wouldn’t surprise us. Either way, we think this’ll be closer than expected.
Rep of Ireland v Sweden – Monday 13th June 17:00 – BBC
Any game which involves United-bound Zlatan is worth a watch but this also has the added ingredient of probably being a must-win game for both Ireland and Sweden, despite being the opener for each of them. Group E is the proverbial ‘Group of Death’ this Euro 2016 and with Italy and Belgium to come, both teams know losing this would probably mean a swift exit. Bad for them, perfect for a neutral!
Belgium v Italy – Monday 13th June 20:00 – BBC
While a sudden death tie this early is great for us neutrals, the stand out tie of Gameweek 1 is unquestionably major tournament veterans, Italy v the new kids on the block, Belgium. Eden Hazard and co are quite rightly considered one of the top 5 favourites for the tournament and though they had a disappointing World Cup, they had a great Euro qualifying campaign losing only once to Wales in Cardiff. Italy similarly enjoyed a good build-up with no loses, and while they might not have the names they used to, you should never write off the Italians when it comes to a major tournament. Tuck in.