The Best Game and Biggest Shock of the Euros so far
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The Best Game and Biggest Shock of the Euros so far

19/06/24 12:47

The Best Game and Biggest Shock of the Euros so far

Somehow, a whole gameweek of Euro’s football has been and gone already … and it has not disappointed in the slightest. With a game yet to end scoreless, it has been a tournament jam-packed with goals, moments, shocks and controversies thus far, and incredibly, we are only 12 fixtures in.

With so much football yet to be played, let’s look back on the early group stage games and take a closer look at the best game, as well as the biggest shock so far.

Best Game

For a tournament that hasn’t completed even a quarter of its total fixtures, this was a tricky decision.

Germany 5-1 Scotland could have fitted the bill, not for tightness of the game or for it’s end-to-end nature (Scotland had one shot in total), but for the way the home nation kicked off proceedings and got the country rocking within 10 minutes of getting their campaign under way when Florian Wirtz found the bottom corner.

However, the best game, simply in terms of the pure chaos it provided, was between two sides who seem to have been overlooked. Turkey vs Georgia was a feast of footballing mayhem, and let's examine what went on.

What happened?

Placed in group F alongside Czechia and trophy contenders Portugal, Georgia and Turkey had been written off by many before their first game, with people seeming to think that neither side has the squad ability, depth and tactics to go far in the tournament.

Enter Tuesday night at the Signal Iduna Park in Dortmund. Before the match even began there was chaos, with torrential rain and severe weather warnings leading German authorities to recommend that those without tickets remain at home, instead of watching in fan parks on big screens located around Germany's major cities.

And this is before the fan violence started. As both sets of fans attempted to take shelter from the rain before kick-off, many ended up mingling together, and soon, a fight erupted in one corner of the ground. Split up by the presence of the police, it set the precedent of how the game itself would play out on the pitch.

The early stages of the game were filled with high-octane action, as Kaan Ayhan struck the very inside of the post from distance, before Georgia midfielder Mehvabishvili saw a deflected effort from distance brilliantly saved by a scrambling Gunok in the Turkey goal.

Turkey kept on smothering Georgia, and in the 25th minute the pressure was eventually telling, as a headed clearance fell kindly to Mert Muldur on the edge of the box, and with no hesitation whatsoever, he thumped a screamer of a volley past Mamardashvili into the top corner to enter his name into goal of the tournament discussions.

Kenan Yildiz then turned home a scuffed shot a minute later, but it was ruled out by VAR. However, Turkey had well and truly asserted their dominance.

Fans would have been forgiven for thinking that it was the beginning of the end for Georgia, but they rebounded brilliantly. Striker Georges Mikautadze finished with a clever near post flick just seven minutes later for Georgia’s first ever goal in major football, and the game was well and truly afoot.

Mikautadze almost gave Georgia the lead four minutes later, but his acrobatic volley drifted just wide in what was the last major opening of the half.

The second half saw more of the same, with chances for both nations, before Real Madrid wonderkid Arda Guler shifted the ball onto his left foot in the 66th minute, and bent a missile into the top corner from 25 yards to provide the Turkish fans with yet another screamer, and give them the lead once again.

And yet Georgia responded well again, as Kochorashvili, who was brilliant all game, showed quick feet to go through on goal and smacked the top of the bar when 1v1 with Gunok.

Turkey then went up the other end and Yazici was left wondering how he didn’t score as his close range header was brilliantly kept out by Mamardashvili to keep Georgia's deficit to one goal.

Added time arrived and Georgia threw caution to the wind, with Mikautadze nearly grabbing a second as another volley flashed just wide of the post, before a whipped free kick hit the post after going through the crowd with Mamardashvili waiting in the middle. He stayed up for the following corner, and that was the nail in the coffin for Georgia.

The corner was headed away, and one miscontrol later, Akturkoglu found himself through on goal with nobody in his sight. Running all the way to the edge of the area he coolly slotted into the bottom corner, and the result was finally ensured.

While the world rankings of the two nations combined to make the most modest total of the tournament so far, the pair threw everything at it, and the quality of the football belied their rankings. One thing is for sure, I certainly will be tuning into both sides' fixtures from now on.

Biggest Shock

There is only one real contender for this, and it came against the nation which my fellow writers’ believed would have an underwhelming tournament. Slovakia encapsulated the beauty of international tournament football with a gritty fighting 1-0 victory over group favorites, the aging golden generation of Belgium.

What is more, they defended their lead from the seventh minute of the game, after Ivan Schranz pounced on a poor parry by keeper Casteels to volley into the far corner.

But take no credit away from the Slovaks. They were disciplined and great to watch when they did have the ball, and keeper Martin Dubravka made five saves to keep Belgium at bay.

And they weren’t exactly dominated by Belgium either. With 40% of possession, and 10 shots to Belgium's 16, it was the perfectly orchestrated counter attacking victory, and Slovakia will now head into their games with Ukraine and surprise-packages Romania with confidence high.

Belgium meanwhile will have taken a massive dent to their own confidence, and while their two remaining fixtures are considered the easiest in their group, they may be haunted by what was a nearly performance against Slovakia.

Benji Kosartiyer
Journalist
Harry Pascoe

Football Writer

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