In Group A Portugal confirmed their status as favourites by firmly defeating the never-to-be-underestimated Turks 2-0. At the same time, the Swiss hosts, in my view, disappointed by losing to the Czechs, and will have to show more in their coming matches if they are to hope going through. Portugal should be watched out for surely!
Germany was powerful in group B against a hugely disappointing Polish side, who made such defensive blunders that they qualify as the worse team so far in this tournament. At the same time, the Austrian hosts lost to the Croatians on Modric's lone penalty, but deserved better, and surely should not be underestimated by Germany. The Austrians should defeat the poor Poles.
Group C promises to be thrilling in spite of the Netherlands giving such a powerful display of football: it wasn't that they played so well (everyone should know that the Dutch can play like that), but it was the more amazing considering that they defeated the defending world champions, Italy, by 3-0! It was a powerful display, and the Dutch are looking like serious contenders for the title. The same cannot be said for the world's 2nd, France. They were hugely disappoiting in the 0-0 game against Romania - a match so boring I fell asleep prefering to watch paint dry.
Lastly, Group D started off with an exciting 4-1 victory of Spain against Russia, with three goals by Valencia's David Villa, who thus looks like a serious contender for most scoring player of the tournament. While Spain should also be considered a contender for the title, one should not forget their history of starting off well and disappointing later. Meanwhile, the Swedes were unforgiving in their 2-0 victory against the defending champions of Greece, who are looking at an early exit from the tournament.
In spite of this being the first round only, and many things could still happen, my top-5 favourites for the title are as follows:
- Netherlands: after their display against the Italians, they seem to be the team to beat. I hope they will be able to keep up that kind of playing, for the good of football!
- Portugal: Will be more interesting to watch against a big team, but surely played well, and Cristiano Ronaldo seems to be on a roll.
- Germany: Played surgically with an elegant Ballack leading the midfield against the Poles, who were nevertheless hugely disappointing.
- Spain: They often disappoint, but if they can play like they did against Russia throughout the tournament, they may put all historical critics (like myself) to rest.
- Italy: They lost, hugely, but can still bounze back and must show that they are world champions indeed!