UEFA Euro 2024: Germany and Spain showcase dominance in opening matches

by Lorraine Williamson
Euro 2024

The UEFA Euro 2024 group stages kicked off on Friday evening with the Group A clash between Scotland and Germany. The following afternoon Group B saw their opening match as Spain took on Croatia.

Germany v Scotland

The opening game of Euro 2024 saw hosts Germany face off against Scotland at the Allianz Arena. Germany, favourites to win and participating in their 14th UEFA EURO competition, squared up against Scotland, making their 4th appearance. Germany’s impressive record includes three Euro victories, tying with Spain for the most wins in the tournament’s history.

Right from the whistle, Germany showcased their intent. Just three minutes in, they had their first chance, but the Scottish goalkeeper made a crucial save, with the offside flag up anyway. Two minutes later, Scotland responded with a chance of their own. Tierney’s long throw into the box was cleared by Rudiger, setting the tone for a competitive first ten minutes.

Germany´s dominance

However, Germany’s superiority soon became evident. In the 11th minute, Kimmich found Wirtz on the edge of the penalty box. Wirtz’s shot slipped past Gunn, despite the goalkeeper getting a glove on it. Germany were 1-0 up and firmly in control. Their dominance continued, and in the 19th minute, Musiala, with an assist from Havertz, blasted the ball high into the net, doubling Germany’s lead.

Scotland´s struggle

Scotland struggled to break through a solid German defense led by Rudiger. In the 25th minute, Germany were awarded a penalty when Musiala was brought down by Tierney and Christie. VAR intervened, changing the decision to a free-kick just outside the box. Havertz’s strike from the set-piece was brilliantly saved by Gunn, who was keeping the scoreline respectable.

Germany’s relentless pressure paid off again just before halftime. A reckless tackle by Porteous on Gundogan led to a penalty and a red card for the Scottish defender. Havertz converted the penalty, sending Gunn the wrong way and making it 3-0. With Scotland down to 10 men, the first half ended with Germany in a commanding position.

Second half

The second half saw Gunn continue his heroic efforts, making several saves to keep the score from ballooning further. Yet, in the 68th minute, Fullkrug fired an unstoppable shot into the top corner, making it 4-0. Fullkrug thought he had a second goal seven minutes later, but it was ruled offside by VAR.

In the 87th minute, Scotland got a consolation goal, albeit an own goal by Rudiger. His header found the back of his own net, making it 4-1. However, Germany were not done yet. In the final minute of stoppage time, Can scored, sealing a 5-1 victory for Germany.

Germany tops Group A on goal difference, while Scotland sits at the bottom. Scotland will face Switzerland on Wednesday evening, hoping for a turnaround.

Spain v Croatia

Group B’s clash between Croatia and Spain promised excitement, reminiscent of their last high-scoring encounter at Euro 2020, where Spain triumphed 5-3 after extra time. This time, Spain asserted their dominance early on at the Aviva Stadium.

Spain controlled possession from the start, and it paid off just before the half-hour mark. Morata opened the scoring, putting Spain 1-0 up. Three minutes later, Ruiz, assisted by Pedri, doubled Spain’s lead, leaving Croatia scrambling.

Croatia nearly pulled one back immediately, but Majer’s shot hit the side netting. Spain continued to press, and in stoppage time of the first half, Carvajal, assisted by the 16-year-old Yamal, made it 3-0.

Second half

The second half saw Croatia struggling to mount a comeback. In the 78th minute, Petkovic had a golden opportunity after being fouled by Spain’s Rodri, who received a yellow card. Petkovic’s penalty, however, was saved, keeping the score at 3-0.

Spain maintained their dominance throughout the rest of the match. Despite five minutes of stoppage time, Croatia couldn’t find the net. Spain’s comprehensive 3-0 victory puts them at the top of Group B, ahead of their clash with second-place Italy on Thursday evening.

With such commanding performances, both Germany and Spain have set high expectations for their campaigns in Euro 2024.

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