Euro Daily: June 17, 2021
Day 6 of the European Championships will see a trio of fixtures played out, as the Netherlands, Belgium and Austria aim to build on respective opening day victories.
Below, check out five things you need to know about Thursday’s action.
It’s time for your #EURO2020 5-a-day with Alison Bender as she highlights five things to watch out for today 🏆
From Serie A stars to El Clasico, today’s action has it all 🙌
— 101 Great Goals (@101greatgoals) June 17, 2021
1) Christian Eriksen
Like everyone else, we at 101 are praying for Christian Eriksen, after his cardiac arrest during Denmark’s opening day defeat to Finland.
Football, as a whole, still feels altogether unimportant when taking into consideration what the Danes have gone through over recent days. Yet, they are now tasked with taking on a rampant Belgium side. The clash is set to play out at the Parken Stadium in Copenhagen, the same venue which saw Eriksen’s collapse send shockwaves across the globe just days ago.
It’s unclear how focused Denmark’s stars will be, ahead of a potentially difficult evening for all involved.
In more positive news, on the other hand, the latest signals emerging from Eriksen’s camp are of an altogether encouraging nature. Taking to Instagram on Tuesday morning, the Inter Milan man posted the following, thanking fans for their messages of support, before assuring that he is feeling ‘fine’:
‘Big thanks for your sweet and amazing greetings and messages from all around the world.’
‘It means a lot to me and my family. I’m fine – under the circumstances. I still have to go through some examinations at the hospital, but I feel okay.’
‘Now, I will cheer on the boys on the Denmark team in the next matches. Play for all of Denmark.’
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2) Preview of El Clasico battle during Austria vs Netherlands
Moving onto this evening’s showdown between the Netherlands and Austria, it is worth taking note of an individual battle with ties to two of world football’s biggest clubs.
The Amsterdam clash, between two nations who got their respective Euro 2020 campaigns off to winning starts at the weekend, will feature the talents of both Frenkie de Jong and David Alaba. In seasons gone by, such a meeting would have been largely insignificant. However, with Alaba having opted to take his talents to Real Madrid ahead of next season, it now marks a Clasico face-off.
De Jong has of course already solidified himself as a key member of Barcelona’s ranks in the middle of the park, and looks set to continue to play a starring role at the Camp Nou for years to come.
Alaba, meanwhile, will no doubt be desperate to prove himself away from Bayern Munich, amid a new era under Carlo Ancelotti in the Spanish capital. It is also worth remembering that media reports have persistently pushed the narrative that Alaba has set his sights on a midfield berth ahead of the 2021/22 campaign.
The gifted Austrian is set to take up a defensive role for his country later this evening, but expect at least a couple of clashes between two of El Clasico’s stars of tomorrow over the course of the 90 minutes.
3) Serie A fans should be keen on Ukraine vs North Macedonia
For fans of Serie A, it could be well worth your time tuning in for Thursday’s meeting between Ukraine and North Macedonia.
Italian ties run deep through the fixture, starting with AC Milan legend Andriy Shevchenko, who will of course take his place on the bench for the former at the National Arena in Bucharest.
Elsewhere, a pair of the Italian top-flight’s midfield stars are set to do battle in the middle of the park. Ruslan Malinovskyi (Ukraine) shone brightly as one of Atalanta’s key men this past season, making use of his hammer of a left foot to rack up 10 goals and 12 assists across all competitions.
Up against him in the Romanian capital, meanwhile, will be Napoli’s North Macedonian midfielder Elif Elmas. The 21-year-old is an impressive up-and-coming talent, widely viewed as the future of his country’s midfield.
Last but certainly not least when it comes to the Serie A ties surrounding Ukraine’s clash with North Macedonia is of course Goran Pandev.
The veteran hitman stands as the only North Macedonian to ever score 100 goals in one of Europe’s top 5 leagues (Serie A). Not only that, but, at the grand old age of 37, Pandev proved that his predatory instincts remain very much intact, in temporarily bringing his country level en route to an eventual opening day defeat to Austria at the weekend.
4) All signs point towards Netherlands
When it comes to predicting the results set to play out on Thursday, one safe bet comes in the form of a Netherlands victory over Austria.
The Oranje got their Euros campaign off to a solid if unspectacular start on Sunday. They put Ukraine to the sword by 3 goals to 2.
Live score updates https://t.co/ymc4eCipHH
— RTÉ Soccer (@RTEsoccer) June 13, 2021
This time around, though, Frank de Boer should see what looked a shaky backline buoyed by the return of star defender Matthijs de Ligt. The Juventus standout was forced to sit out his country’s opener after picking up a groin injury in training, but looks primed to return to the heart of the Oranje’s backline this time around.
Personnel aside, if the history books are anything to go by, then the Netherlands look a dead cert to emerge from the Johan Cruijff ArenA will all three points.
The Dutch have been victorious in each of their last six meetings with Austria, racking up 18 goals along the way. In the only ever showdown between the countries at a major tournament (the 1978 World Cup), the Oranje also proved completely dominant, eventually emerging on the right side of a 5-1 scoreline.
5) Lukaku going for the Golden Boot
Last up on our list of things to know for Thursday’s Euro 2020 action is Romelu Lukaku’s efforts to win the Euro 2020 Golden Boot award.
Belgium’s main man looked almost unplayable over stretches in his country’s opening day win over Russia, notching a brace either side of half-time. His 2-goal haul leaves Lukaku sitting joint-top of the Golden Boot standings, alongside the trio of Patrik Schick, Ciro Immobile and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Who would bet against ‘Big Rom’ carrying such form into the tournament’s latter rounds, to eventually emerge as the top scorer?
Next up for Lukaku is a meeting with a Denmark side whose minds will no doubt be elsewhere, following the frightening collapse of star man Christian Eriksen. Further goals could well be on the menu for the prolific Inter Milan man in Copenhagen, with Danish captain and key defender Simon Kjaer (coincidentally of AC Milan) having admitted that he was unable to see out the nation’s defeat to Finland after being overwhelmed by emotion.
Staying with the subject of Christian Eriksen, Lukaku actually paid tribute to his Inter teammate after opening the scoring versus Russia at the weekend:
“Chris, Chris… I love you!” ❤️
— ITV Football (@itvfootball) June 12, 2021
The Red Devils star’s post-match interview also proved hugely emotional, with Lukaku’s visit to Denmark later today, for a whole host of reasons, set to prove a special one.
This article was edited by Benjamin Newman.