5 things we learned from Euro 2024: Matchday 1

  • Euro 2024 has delivered plenty of goals and excitement so far
  • Tournament in Germany has proven thrilling after one round of group stage games
  • Takeaways and analysis ahead of crucial second group games
What a tournament this has been, by the way
What a tournament this has been, by the way / Peter Lous/BSR Agency/Getty Images, Ian MacNicol/Getty Images, Kevin Voigt/GettyImages

Now this is a proper international tournament.

Euro 2024 has lived up to the hype so far. If the rest of the competition is as thrilling as matchday one has been, then we're in for one hell of a summer.

Here are five takeaways from the opening games of Euro 2024.

Entertaining football is possible at international level

Julian Nagelsmann
All hail King Julian / Alexander Hassenstein/GettyImages

For years, we as football enjoyers have had it drilled into our heads that it's nearly impossible to be successful at international football and also enjoy the football you're watching. And for the most part, yeah, those people have been right.

But some of the frontrunners at this tournament have quickly cemented that status with direct and attacking styles of play.

Euro 2024 opened with hosts Germany tearing Scotland limb from limb, right to the extreme extent that people have been fooled into thinking the Tartan Army are nobodies who don't have a fair bit of top-level quality in their ranks.

Spain also abandoned their Tiki-Taka ideals of the past and ripped through Croatia with a transitional brand of football which relied on pacy wingers in Lamine Yamal and Nico Williams, rather than boring the opposition to death by a thousand passes. Holders Italy were similarly impressive for much of their win against Albania.

In the cases of Germany and Italy in particular, such progress should be attributed to their ambitious appointments of elite coaches in Julian Nagelsmann and Luciano Spalletti respectively. Better things are possible.

Death to one-man teams

Cristiano Ronaldo
Alright sunshine / Alex Livesey/GettyImages

Now, I'm not naming names.

Until now. Cristiano Ronaldo.

Portugal have one of the deepest - if not the deepest - squads in international football, but Roberto Martinez did an awful amount of tinkering to build a team whose sole purpose seemed to be to feed the feet, head and ego of their captain.

It was rather poetic that Diogo Jota's would-be winner against Czechia was cancelled out because Ronaldo was offside in the build-up, while their eventual clincher came as a result of two far younger and more dynamic substitutes in Pedro Neto and Francisco Conceicao combining.

Portugal aren't the only culprits of gearing their system around one player to the detriment of the team, however. Belgium utilised the pace and erratic dribbling of Jeremy Doku to a frankly annoying extent, while England are tying themselves in knots to fit Trent Alexander-Arnold into midfield.

The best performances of this Euros so far have come because of team collectives and not the over-reliance on one player.

Even France are flawed

Kylian Mbappe
Yeah that nose is looking a bit flawed now / Kevin C. Cox/GettyImages

And yet even the great France have fallen foul to such a trope.

There was a familiar feel about Les Bleus' 1-0 win against Austria. It resembled their similarly tight 2-1 victory against Australia at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in which Didier Deschamps surprisingly went with social media's preferred front three of Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann and Ousmane Dembele. Without the balance of Olivier Giroud, France were mostly toothless, but their performances vastly improved when he was drafted into the starting XI.

Against Austria, Deschamps started Mbappe, Dembele and Marcus Thuram in his frontline, though France's main source of chance creation came through rinsing Real Madrid's newest Galactico for all he had coming inside off the left.

With Mbappe potentially set to miss at least one game due to a broken nose, France and Deschamps will have to find a new solution to their attacking woes. It could benefit them for the rest of the tournament, it could edge them towards the trap door of an early elimination.

Big men are beautiful

Niclas Fuellkrug
A new German hero / Stefan Matzke - sampics/GettyImages

Niclas Fullkrug. Wout Weghorst. The much-maligned Martin Adam.

You are the reason why we love the beautiful game.

Crash-bang-wallop strikers. The biggest of big men. The sauce on your steak, the cheese in your cake, you put the 'Spring' in Springfield.

One German fan was lucky enough to have had their hand broken by a stray shot from Fullkrug while watching training earlier this week. That's truly the best of omens.

The kids are alright

*To the tune of Hey Jude* Na na na na na na na na na na na na na, hey Jude / OZAN KOSE/GettyImages

It's real quiet in the 'football fell off' and 'this sport was better 20 years ago' camps right now.

The game is in pretty good hands. Jude Bellingham. Jamal Musiala. Florian Wirtz. Arda Guler. The aforementioned Yamal and Williams.

We're ready for more.