As the curtain closed on Andrea Bocelli’s spectacular and emotionally rousing rendition of Nessun dorma in front of the partly filled Olympico Stadium cauldron in Rome, Matchday one of Euro 2020 had started. A year on from the planned opening ceremony it was this dormant superpower of a tournament and the delay that Covid-19 caused the world that increased passions in the Italian pit to reach boiling levels.
The explosive exhale of Italian that rang around the nation as Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci pulled their team mates up with them and into the spotlight, expressing all their patriotism and proudness to be on this stage once again with the national anthem, the competition had begun.
With no club side laying claim to more players on show this tournament, it should be no surprise that it was Jorginho that took the reigns of this match.
Day one: Jorginho stars on Euro 2020 Matchday opener
Often the conductor of play three hours down the Italian coast in Napoli, Chelsea’s midfield metronome set about his constructive business once again in Rome. Although critics will be quick to point out that Jorginho’s clear lack of playing killer passes and his stubbornness to maintain complete control on his own may have delayed the Italian breakthrough, his carefully dictated possession play was ultimately the slow nail through the hearts of the hoping Turks.
Without registering a goal or assist, perhaps Jorginho was so integral to this curtain raiser that it was he that took the mysterious role of the remote control Stig and delivered the matchball at the start of the game. Such is the Italian playmakers subsequent deceptiveness he clocked up 92 passes at a success rate of 93.8%, three key passes and also delivered his usual unorthodox defensive statistics with four interception, three tackles and six recoveries.
Although he may not cover ‘70% of the Earth’ like Ally Mcoist described N’Golo Kante against Germany, Chelsea’s midfielder was the standout player for the opener on matchday one of Euro 2020.
Elsewhere in this game, there was no appearance for Emerson who remained an unused sub for Roberto Mancini’s typically pragmatic but equally as impressive and dangerous Italian side.
Day two: Disappointment for Ampadu on Euro 2020 matchday one but Batshuayi’s Belgian delight
There was less dominance from Chelsea’s players on day two of Euro 2020 matchday one with just two Blues players making appearances whilst only one of those got any form of decent minutes.
Ethan Ampadu, who spent his second year in a row on loan away from Stamford Bridge, could only make a last minute substitute appearance as his Welsh teammates failed to find a way past Switzerland as the game ended in a 1-1 draw. Ampadu, often deployed as a midfielder for his country, played large portions of the season in a back three at Sheffield United and will feel that a successful Euros could put him on Thomas Tuchel’s radar. After a decent but perhaps uninspired start to the tournament for Wales there is an opportunity for Chelsea’s young starlet to light up and dictate play for his country.
Later on in the days play, Andreas Christensen’s Danish side were rocked by the tragedy of Christian Eriksen’s on-field cardiac arrest. The Dane’s were holding their opponents Finland 0-0 at the time but fell to a 1-0 defeat after the game restarted later that evening, just 90 minutes after the original incident.
Everyone connected with The Chelsea Social wishes the best for Eriksen and hopes that he can recover to full health as soon as possible.
The heartfelt shock of the football world was evident as Denmark and Christensen struggled to gain momentum against their Finnish opponents. Understandably given the situation it wasn’t a match where the performance of players was important. Player welfare and health is at the forefront of our minds.
To end the evening clouded by the shock of the football world, perhaps incorrectly (this is a debate for another article) tournament hopefuls Belgium kicked off their campaign against Russia. Despite a home crowd advantage in the 2018 World Cup the Russian side still out performed expectations three years ago, this result could be why their underwhelming showing against the Roberto Martinez’s Devils was such a shame.
Former Blues player Yuri Zhirkov started the game, aged 37, the versatile defender ended a largely successful Stamford Bridge career in 2012 and went down as an extremely popular team member. His longevity to continue to play at this age was a standout moment in a game that was stacked with Chelsea angles.
Michy Batshauyi, who tends to give his best performances for his country, was an unused substitute as ex-Blues striker Romelu Lukaku bagged a brace for the dominant and impressive Belgians. Lukaku, who is linked with Chelsea once again this summer, impressed fans and continued to show why he is so sought after as he enters his prime off the back of his best scoring season under another Blues link, Antonio Conte.
Finally, there was a moment of happiness as Eden Hazard entered proceedings to give a brief 20 minute cameo which was unspectacular but promising for the winger. His showing of quick fire dribbles and a typical throwback cross field arrow was enough to excite Blues fans that have missed the sight of their favourite Belgian Blue.
Day three: One Blue starts for the three Lions on first matchday
The eagerly awaited England selection was an anti-climax for many onlookers. As the Champions of Europe only saw golden boy Mason Mount selected in midfield, Reece James and Ben Chilwell both had to watch on from the bench. Frustratingly, Chilwell lost out on his stating spot not to Manchester United’s Luke Shaw, but to a player who he glided past over two legs in the Champions League last-16, Kieran Trippier.
As England took the three points from Wembley, Raheem Sterling’s goal enough to see off Mateo Kovacic on the opposing side in his slick black away shirt, there was optimism that Chilwell and James are being eased into a side that will undoubtedly need the depth that it possesses from the outside.
Mount, starting just ahead of Declan Rice and Kalvin Phillips, wasn’t central to the game but delivered consistently when found in pockets of space by his teammates. Although not the most fluid of starts for England, Mount’s presence once again helped his team to take advantage of tight spaces and open up a stubborn and experiences Croatia side.
Day four: Benched Blues don’t feature in poor performances
On the fourth day of matches at Euro 2020 and matchday one, Chelsea’s little magician in midfield, Billy Gilmour, wasn’t used as Scotland fell to a 2-0 defeat to Czech Republic at Hampden Park. On paper, a talented midfield of Scott McTominay, John McGinn and Gilmour could help control and exploit many nations.
Gilmour, not preferred for this opener, could find himself thrust into the side as England face Scotland on Friday, where he could face up to teammates Mount, Chilwell and James. Although the youngster is new to international football at a senior level, from his history of playing in debut matches ahead of his age, he would be fine and could add the creativity, drive and fearlessness that the Scots missed in the final third.
Finishing day four off was a dower draw for a dominant but disappointingly blunt Spanish side who didn’t use the experience of Champions League winning captain, Cesar Azpilicueta.
Although Luis Enrique’s side weren’t troubled too much at the back, the form and experience of Azpilicueta is a factor that the side will have benefited from.
Day five: Group of Death
On the final game of matchday one at Euro 2020 Chelsea’s star players from their victorious Champions League campaign were tooth and nail at each others throats, or so it could have been.
N’Golo Kante, ever the gentleman, played a staring role for France as he once again enabled Paul Pogba to control the centre of midfield against a struggling Germany side. Mats Hummels’ first half strike through his own net was enough for the reigning world champions to see off a Germany team that saw Kai Havertz and Antonio Rudiger start, with Timo Werner appearing from the bench.
Unsurprisingly, Kante’s performance caught the eyes of all that were lucky enough to watch the game, commentator Ally Mcoist had the best line of them all.
“70% of the earth is covered by water the other 30% by Kante”Ally McCoist talking about Kante
For Germany, Rudiger was helpless to stop his teammate scoring an own goal but it was noticeable that the marauding centre back didn’t look as comfortable as he has done in previous weeks for his club.
He also made the headlines as he appeared to think about biting Pogba, before thinking better of it.
Werner’s brief cameo off the bench was too little too late for Germany who succumbed to a disappointing home defeat and will now have an uphill battle with form and tournament holders Portugal to progress into the knockout stages.
Now we move on to Euro 2020 matchday two and all the eyes will remain on Chelsea’s European stars as they look to continue a surreal few months for club and country.
Written and edited by Tom Coley (@tomcoley49)
Follow us on: