ALL 24 teams have now played their first game. Some have thrilled, others have flopped, but everyone has work to do to secure a place in the last-16.
The second round of matches start today and the hope is for more excitement on the pitch and less trouble off it.
Can Russia’s players leave a positive image for 90 minutes?
THE last few days have been dominated by news, headlines and discussions about the violence orchestrated by Russian thugs in France. Their behaviour has been abhorrent (I am not condoning any bad behaviour on the part of English fans in Marseille, either) and threatens to cast a shadow over the whole tournament. The threat of disqualification from UEFA hangs over Russia if their fans misbehave again inside the stadium either today against Slovakia in Lille or next Monday night in Lille against the Welsh.
This may be too little, too late, but it’s a plea to the Russian players. Try to play some football that makes us briefly forget what is going on in the stands. Try to entertain and uplift for 90 minutes. They failed to do that against England and were flattered by a 1-1 draw, but they have another opportunity to show that not everything about Russia at the Euros has to be wholly negative.
Player of the day: Dimitri Payet
AS West Ham fans have sung to everyone else all season, ‘We’ve got Payet!’. No wonder as he contributed nine goals and 12 assists in the Premier League. Now it’s the whole of France who can rejoice in having this gifted playmaker in their team.
He was the star of the opening night against Romania, setting up the first goal and then scoring that wonderful left-foot winner in the 89th minute. Suddenly the expectation on him from the French public and the eyes of the world will be there ahead of tonight’s game against Albania in Marseille. Payet must produce another stellar performance to back up his Stade de France show to prove that he deserves mention alongside the other stars of European football.
Will it be adventure or caution from Romania and Switzerland?
WHILE a tea-time encounter between Romania and Switzerland is not exactly one to set the pulses racing, what happens could give an indicator of most teams’ ambitions over the next few days. The Swiss opened up with a narrow win over Albania and another one of those would put them into the knockout stages.
The Romanians were close to an impressive draw at the Stade de France until Payet struck but they can’t afford another defeat. Will caution kick in for both coaches (Anghel Iordanescu and Vladimir Petkovic) and will they regard one point as better than none? With the new 24-team format, Euro 2016 is about not being knocked out than going through.
It’s a subtle change, but the worry is that negativity, caution and staying in a game will take over from creativity and adventure. No game has had more than three goals yet and we would love that to change.
French of the day
Les coups francs (Free-kicks)
2pm: Russia vs Slovakia (Stade Pierre-Mauroy, BBC)
5pm: Romania vs Switzerland (Parc des Princes, ITV)
8pm: France vs Albania (Stade Vélodrome, ITV)
Euro 2016 TV Schedule: When and where to watch the big matches
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