Day five at the Euros is upon us with two games as a stacked Group F finally takes centre stage.
Cristiano Ronaldo and defending champions Portugal were in action first as they beat Hungary 3-0 in Budapest at 5pm BST, with that encounter whetting the appetite for a mammoth showdown between France and Germany in Munich later this evening.
Meanwhile, Denmark star Christian Eriksen has reassured fans that he “feels okay” and is “fine, under the circumstances” in a public message issued from his hospital bed in Copenhagen as he recovers and undergoes further tests following the cardiac arrest suffered on the pitch against Finland on Saturday.
There’s also been news of an injury blow for England, with Manchester United goalkeeper Dean Henderson forced to withdraw from the Euros with a hip injury. His place in Gareth Southgate’s squad will be taken by Sheffield United counterpart Aaron Ramsdale.
On Monday night, Spain could not find a way past Sweden despite their dominance in Seville, while Slovakia sprung a shock against Robert Lewandowski and 10-man Poland.
Meanwhile, Scotland’s first match at a major tournament since 1998 ended with a demoralising 2-0 loss to the Czech Republic, with Patrik Schick scoring what will surely be the goal of the tournament from near the halfway line at Hampden Park.
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France vs Germany lineups
Here is the team news for tonight’s game…
France: Lloris, Pavard, Varane, Kimpembe, Lucas, Pogba, Kante, Rabiot, Griezmann, Mbappe-Lottin, Benzema
Subs: Lenglet, Lemar, Giroud, Dembele, Tolisso, Zouma, Mandanda, Digne, Coman, Ben Yedder, Maignan, Kounde
Germany: Neuer, Ginter, Hummels, Rudiger, Kimmich, Kroos, Gundogan, Gosens, Havertz, Muller, Gnabry
Subs: Halstenberg, Volland, Werner, Leno, Sule, Klostermann, Neuhaus, Sane, Trapp, Can, Koch, Gunter
Vieira issues Mbappe challenge
Patrick Vieira wants Kylian Mbappe to prove that he can put France before himself.
The PSG forward has been involved in a bizarre war of words with teammate Olivier Giroud in recent weeks with both making public gripes.
Speaking ahead of the game on ITV, Vieira wants to see Mbappe prove he is not focused on himself at Euro 2020.
“He came out with words that were unnecessary,” said Vieira. “So hopefully today he can show that the team are more important than him personally. “
Group F result: Hungary 0-3 Portugal
Cristiano Ronaldo set a new European Championship goalscoring record as Portugal got their title defence off to a winning start with a 3-0 victory over Hungary in Budapest.
The Juventus forward’s 10th goal at the finals, via a late penalty, saw him surpass Michel Platini’s tally of nine, all of which were scored in the 1984 edition, and he added another in injury time to get to 11.
There was an element of relief for the Portugal captain as, embarrassingly for a player of his quality, he had missed a sitter to break the deadlock at the end of the first half.
That had emboldened Hungary to maintain their defensive resilience, only for it to be broken in an awful three-minute period for Willi Orban.
Six minutes from time Raphael Guerreiro’s shot took a huge deflection off the centre-back to give goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi no chance, and Orban then pulled back Rafa Silva to concede Ronaldo’s record-breaking penalty.
The 36-year-old, also setting another record in becoming the first player to feature and also score in five championships, then capped things off with his 106th international goal in 176 appearances after a smart passing move in the penalty area.
Bale: Turkish fans can spur on Wales
Gareth Bale insists Wales will be spurred on by partisan Turkish support at their second game of Euro 2020.
Around 34,000 are expected at Baku’s Olympic Stadium on Wednesday, with Turkey able to count on the vast majority of support inside the arena.
Thousands of Turkey fans will be in Baku for the crunch Group A game, including Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, while only a few hundred Wales supporters will be present.
Azerbaijan’s close cultural, diplomatic and economic ties with Turkey also means the local population are supporting Wales’ opponents at a stadium that will be nearly half-full to its 69,870 capacity.
“I think it’s good to be playing in front of big crowds,” Wales captain Bale said after a year when stadiums have mostly been empty because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“It will be nice to have that atmosphere at the stadium and get back to a bit of normality.
“Obviously we’d prefer to be playing in front of 34,000 Wales fans, but it’s not meant to be.
“If anything it kind of spurs us on to be a bit more ruthless on the pitch, and hopefully we can keep them silent.”
Henderson tells England: ‘Bring it home’
Devastated Dean Henderson has told England’s players to “bring it home” after a hip injury forced him to withdraw from their Euro 2020 squad.
Henderson, who left St George’s Park on Tuesday afternoon, posted on Twitter: “I worked so hard to be in this position.
“I’m devastated to have to withdraw through injury!! I want to wish my team mates all the best for the up and coming games. BRING IT HOME.”
Bonucci impressed by Italy
Italy defender Leonardo Bonucci says England have impressed him more than any other side so far this summer.
Gareth Southgate’s side began their Euro 2020 campaign with a 1-0 win over World Cup 2018 finalists Croatia at Wembley stadium, with Raheem Sterling scoring the only goal.
And the performance impressed the Italian.
Bonucci said: “England have really stood out to me for the approach that they showed, the way that they were willing to work hard for one another and the fact that they sought the three points. That’s the team that’s impressed me most thus far.”
Santos keen to avoid Portugal ‘failure’
Fernando Santos, the Portugal boss, says his side will have failed if they cannot get out of their group at Euro 2020.
The holders have been drawn alongside Germany and France, as well as Hungary – who they play tonight.
The group has been dubbed the ‘Group of Death’, but Santos said: “Obviously, as contenders to win, if we don’t get through the group phase it will be a failure.
“But I don’t believe that will happen to Portugal. I think people have the right and are correct to demand that we do everything in our power to win, using our quality, organisation, commitment, and I believe we are prepared for that.
“Portugal have the ability to go toe-to-toe with any team that also has ambitions to win the tournament.”
Tierney back in Scotland training
Scotland have been given a major boost after Kieran Tierney trained with the squad this morning.
The Arsenal defender missed Monday’s 2-0 loss to the Czech Republic with a “niggle”, according to manager Steve Clarke.
Scotland hope to have Tierney fit to face England at Wembley on Friday.
Benzema targeting Euros glory on France return
Karim Benzema has set his sights on winning Euro 2020 as he prepares to play in his first major tournament for France in seven years.
France kick off their campaign against Germany tonight in Group F, which also features Portugal and Hungary.
It is the toughest group at the Euros, but at least France have been boosted by the return of Benzema.
The striker has not played for his country since 2015 as a result of his alleged involvement in an attempted blackmail case — he denies any wrongdoing — involving his former France team-mate Mathieu Valbuena, and he is due to stand trial this year.
Despite that, France manager Didier Deschamps recalled Benzema for the Euros and now the 33-year-old has his sights on lifting the trophy.
“My objective is simple: I want to win it. It’s simple,” Benzema said. “I have a lot of trust, a lot of respect for all the other teams but there is always a lot of ambition as well. My ambition is to win.”
Benzema is expected to start tonight and could form a lethal attack alongside Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe, who fired France to World Cup glory in 2018. “They’re used to playing together, whereas I’ve just arrived,” said Benzema.
“So, I need to keep doing what I’ve been doing for Real Madrid and bring that in for the best interests of the France squad. After that, I don’t know whether ‘adapt’ is the right word here, but they’re such good players that it’ll make things easy.”
Germany go into the game as underdogs, and despite a 7-1 trouncing of Latvia in a friendly last week, their form has been patchy.
Outgoing manager Joachim Low is eager to get started.
He said: “You can feel positive tension in the air and anticipation. I really thought, ‘Finally!’ when I got on the bus to come here. I’m calm, relaxed, and think that in the last 14 days we have done what we wanted to.”