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Euro 2024 hits & misses: McTominay delivers for Scotland as Gundogan shows class

  /  autty

Main man McTominay delivers for Scotland

Scott McTominay's goal - his eighth in his last 14 appearances for the national team - was the headline moment in the spirited 1-1 draw with Switzerland which kept Scotland's knockout hopes alive. But it was just one aspect of an excellent all-round performance from the Manchester United midfielder.

He drove the side forward, as he so often does, taking twice as many shots (four) as any of his team-mates and ranking top for touches in the opposition box (eight). All that despite being on set-piece duty too. The Swiss couldn't handle his late runs from deep.

McTominay set the tone for an intense team performance off the ball as well as on it, relishing the assignment of shadowing Granit Xhaka in order to limit his influence and carrying out the task diligently, even up until the closing stages of a draining contest.

Xhaka, outstanding in Switzerland's 3-1 win over Hungary in their opening game, in which he had more touches and created more chances than anyone else, was not nearly as influential thanks to McTominay's close attention, unable to create a single opportunity.

The 27-year-old's contribution, at both ends of the pitch, ultimately proved decisive. If Scotland are to overcome Hungary and achieve the knockout place they crave on Sunday in Stuttgart, they will need their main man McTominay to deliver again.
Nick Wright

Sylvinho and awesome Albania are flourishing

Sylvinho was awarded honorary Albanian citizenship for the work he achieved leading Albania to these finals. They topped their group. Many had labelled them the whipping boys at this tournament. Instead, led by their clearly talented manager, they have given both Italy and Croatia huge problems despite clear inferiority in individual talent.

We could just be dealing with a top-class operator here in the former Arsenal and Barcelona full-back. He's already very experienced having worked as an assistant to Roberto Mancini at Inter Milan and Tite with the Brazilian national team. However, sacked after just 141 days with Lyon and just nine months in Brazil with Corinthians has signalled a perhaps failed managerial career.

The way he has set up Albania, especially against Croatia where he seized upon the ageing limbs in opposition by counter attacking with great pace and purpose, was that of a talented coach. This just might be the start of Sylvinho managing at the elite of European football. Clubs will be watching.
Lewis Jones

Croatia show more signs of waning golden generation

Croatia's match against Albania was billed as their easiest of Group B. It was anything but.

Let's start with the positives. They did show flashes of their old selves for much of the second half. Combinations were working, Ivan Perisic's crosses were sublime, and finally, goals were scored. Andrej Kramaric improved from the opening game and Luka Sucic was a fine introduction from the bench.

However, defence is clearly an issue. There was shuffling of the back-line from manager Zlatko Dalic, but it didn't really work. They could not handle Albania's counter, and the first goal in particular offered their opponents plenty of space to work.

It left the midfield - and a talented one at that - with a lot of mopping up to do. There were misplaced passes from Luka Modric of all players, that was perhaps a metaphor for the impending end of Croatia's golden generation.

We're unlikely to see the likes of Perisic and Modric play internationally after Euro 2024, with hope still alive of reaching the knockout rounds to extend the last hurrah for some of these players.

Croatia are certainly moving into a new era, and will want to maintain the success of the last few tournaments that their fans have come to expect. A fine and difficult balance to strike.
Charlotte Marsh

Hungary impress in narrow defeat

Hungary will rue their missed chances but can take heart from giving Germany a scare.

Their 11 shots were the most Germany have faced in a European Championship group-stage fixture since conceding 14 against the Netherlands in 2012.

Roland Sallai's equaliser was ruled out for offside before Barnabas Varga headed Hungary's best chance over during the second half. The game was over seven minutes later when Ilkay Gundogan struck.

Their goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi impressed, keeping the score down in the closing stages before Joshua Kimmich denied them a late consolation with a goal-line clearance. Hungary can be proud of their efforts.
David Richardson

Gundogan offers reminder of his class

Ilkay Gundogan's display in Germany's 2-0 win over Hungary was a reminder, if it were needed, of the quality he possesses.

The 33-year-old's absence from the Premier League - he joined Barcelona to become a key part of their midfield last summer - means it's possible to forget all that he offers.

After so many years as a No 8 in Pep Guardiola's all-conquering Manchester City side, Julian Nagelsmann has repurposed Gundogan as a No 10, asking him to operate at the tip of an-all star midfield diamond that includes Florian Wirtz and Jamal Musiala.

The role requires Gundogan to both score goals and create them. He did both in Stuttgart, reacting sharply to Willi Orban's error in creating Musiala's opener, before expertly finding space in the Hungary box to seal the win with a composed finish.

In a squad containing Manuel Neuer, Joshua Kimmich and Toni Kroos, it's a testament to Gundogan's skill - as well as his character - that he is Nagelsmann's captain.

Germany have now won their opening two matches at the Euros for a fifth time. On three of the previous four occasions, they went on to win the tournament. If they're to do so again, Gundogan will be crucial.
Joe Shread