EURO 2024 Wrap: Spain, Switzerland and Italy secure victories in opening group games

Nicolo Barella of Italy celebrates scoring his team's second goal with teammates during the UEFA EURO 2024 group stage match between Italy and Albania at Football Stadium Dortmund on June 15, 2024 in Dortmund, Germany.

Nicolo Barella of Italy celebrates scoring his team's second goal with teammates during the UEFA EURO 2024 group stage match between Italy and Albania at Football Stadium Dortmund on June 15, 2024 in Dortmund, Germany. Credit: Photo by Matt McNulty - UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images

Spain off to a strong start in UEFA EURO 2024 with convincing win over Croatia

Spain's UEFA EURO 2024 campaign began impressively as they secured a 3-0 victory over Croatia in their Group B opener in Berlin. Goals from Álvaro Morata, Fabián Ruiz, and Dani Carvajal in the first half set the tone for a dominant performance.

Morata opened the scoring in the 29th minute, converting a superb pass from Ruiz. Shortly after, Ruiz himself scored, making it 2-0 by the 32nd minute. Carvajal added the third just before the halftime whistle, turning in a cross from the youngest player in EURO history, 16-year-old Lamine Yamal.

Croatia tried to fight back, with Joško Gvardiol and Ante Budimir coming close, but Spanish goalkeeper Unai Simón was up to the challenge. Simón also saved a late penalty from Bruno Petković, preserving Spain's clean sheet and capping off a solid defensive performance.

Spain's coach, Luis de la Fuente, praised his team's ambition and unity, noting, "This group are ambitious and it is a huge family, so I'm delighted for everyone."

Fabián Ruiz reflected on the team's performance, stating, "The assist was important, but so was the goal. I thought the team did really well. We did what we wanted to and worked very hard for it. We achieved everything we wanted as a team, which is important."

On the other side, Croatian coach Zlatko Dalić acknowledged the need for improvement, commenting, "It is not a good start, but I congratulate Spain on the victory. We lacked energy and aggression."

Croatian veteran Luka Modrić also expressed disappointment, saying, "It's not the result we were hoping for, but it is what it is. We still have two more matches to improve and make up for it."

The win puts Spain in a strong position in Group B, while Croatia will aim to bounce back in their next match against Albania.

Spain: Unai Simón; Carvajal, Le Normand, Nacho, Cucurella; Pedri (Olmo 59), Rodri (Zubimendi 86), Fabián Ruiz; Yamal (Torres 86), Morata (Oyarzabal 67), Williams (Merino 68)

Croatia: Livaković; Stanišić, Šutalo, Pongračić, Gvardiol; Modrić (Pašalić 65), Brozović, Kovačić (Sučić 65); Majer, Budimir (Perišić 56), Kramarić (Petković 72)       

Switzerland begin EURO 2024 with a win over Hungary

Switzerland overcame Hungary with a 3-1 victory in their EURO 2024 opener, marked by a late goal from Breel Embolo. The game, held in Cologne, saw Switzerland take an early lead through Kwadwo Duah, and despite Hungary's attempts to fight back, the Swiss held firm.

Murat Yakin, Switzerland's coach, shared his tactical satisfaction, saying, "I liken football to chess and today we got our tactics right. We used this formation for a particular reason."

Granit Xhaka, Switzerland's captain, highlighted the team's resilience, noting, "Our qualification wasn't great and this was a match where we suffered a bit, but even when we struggled, we struggled together and were strong as a team."

Hungary's coach, Marco Rossi, reflected on the match's challenges, stating, "The first half was very bad, apart from the first seven-eight minutes, but we were too passive."

Hungary: Gulácsi; Lang (Bolla 46), Orbán, Szalai (Dárdai 79); Fiola, Nagy (Kleinheisler 67), Schäfer, Kerkez (Ádám 79); Sallai, Szoboszlai; Varga

Switzerland: Sommer; Schär, Akanji, Rodríguez; Widmer (Stergiou 68), Xhaka, Freuler (Sierro 86), Aebischer; Ndoye (Rieder 86), Vargas (Embolo 74); Duah (Amdouni 68)

Italy recovers from early setback to beat Albania

Italy bounced back from conceding the fastest goal in EURO history to beat Albania 2-1. Nicolò Barella's stunning goal completed a comeback that began with Alessandro Bastoni's equaliser.

Luciano Spalletti, Italy's coach, emphasised the importance of style in their approach.

“Ever since I started coaching, I've been told what matters is winning. No, what matters is playing well. In order for us to win EURO 2024 we have to play good football. We were a bit deep in the first half, and it allowed Albania to use their physicality, to get it into the mixer. We have to keep faith in our style – that's the route forward.”

Federico Chiesa, celebrating the victory, said, "I'm so happy with our performance. Albania were very tough opponents."

Sylvinho, Albania coach rued Albania’s failure to manage the game better after taking the lead.

"We started well with an early goal, but we couldn't manage the game. The team were so excited after the goal, so enthusiastic, but we failed to deliver a complete performance, especially in the first half. In the second period we managed it better and had that chance from Manaj."

Italy: Donnarumma; Di Lorenzo, Bastoni, Calafiori, Dimarco (Darmian 83); Jorginho, Barella (Folorunsho 90+2); Frattesi, Pellegrini (Cristiante 77), Chiesa (Cambiaso 77); Scamacca (Retegui 83)

Albania: Strakosha; Hysaj, Djimsiti, Ajeti, Mitaj; Asllani, Ramadani, Bajrami (Muçi 87); Asani (Hoxha 68), Broja (Manaj 77), Seferi (Laçi 68)

Related Links:

Euro 2024 Group Table

Euro 2024 Results

Euro 2024 Fixtures

Euro 2024 Top Scorers