Thanks to the Dutch demolition of World Champions, Italy, I'm currently feeling quite smug about my prediction for them to win the whole kaboodle, although they were lucky not to concede (Italy had several clear cut chances) and will need to defend better if they are to go all the way.
Of course every tournament has to have it's controversy and Ruud "goalhanger" Van Nistelrooy's opening goal against the Italians has provided a much needed talking point to keep the plethora of pundits in business.
As he scored, Ruud looked a mile offside but unfortunately for Italy, defender Panucci, despite lying off the pitch, having been clattered by his own goalkeeper, the almost appropriately named Buffon, was considered to be 'active' and playing the Dutch striker onside, much to BBC pundit, Lee Dixon's consternation.
Despite having the ruling explained to him in words of no more than one syllable, Dixon just wouldn't accept that the goal was rightly allowed, personally I would've assumed that as a former member of Arsenal's infamous offside trap, Dixon would've been an expert on the offside law. Also it was bizarre to see him quite happy for Fabregas's goal (Spain's 4th against Russia) to stand despite the Arsenal player (hmmmm...) clearly standing in an offside position when the Russian goalkeeper parried Xavi's initial shot.
Sartorially the Dutch have decided to offset their vivid orange shirts with some sky blue socks that they appear to have borrowed from those midlands giants, Coventry City, perhaps hoping to invoke the spirit of FA Cup winning skipper, Brian "Killer" Kilcline.
They also seem to have shirt numbers made from bits of masking tape, although this is preferable to the "lego" numbers that several teams, including the normally stylish Italians, have gone with.
Spain eased past Russia convincingly although the Russians did create a few chances that better teams would've converted, so we could well see a repeat of the last World Cup for Spain, i.e. big win in their first match, qualification from group followed by defeat to the first decent team they meet in the knockout stages , in 2006 it was France.
In Villa and Torres the Spanish clearly have the best striking partnership and will be relying on them to score more goals than their slightly suspect defence concedes.
Subtle, or not so subtle kit changes seem to be a bit of a feature of this tournament, with Portugal swapping their traditional maroon shirts for much lighter red ones and discarding their green shorts for red (although I think they may've done this for the last World Cup). The new kit though didn't seem to hamper them as they played some nice football to turn the Turks over 2-0, with the rest of the Portugeezers reminding everyone that they are not a one man team (eg. Garth Crooks interviewing one of the players immediately after their win and asking whether he thought that Ronaldo would stay at Manchester United, ffs!).
Germany appeared to live up to their billing as pre-tournament favourites in rolling over the Poles fairly comfortably and the Czech's huffed and puffed their way to a win over hosts Switzerland, who were unlucky not to at least get a draw and also to lose captain and inspirational striker, Frei, for the rest of the tournament (i.e. two games for the Swiss). The Czech's will need to improve considerably if they are to get anything from Portugal later today.
The reigning Champions, Greece, couldn't hold out again the aging Swedes despite their back four (or was it a back eight?) playing keep ball from early on in the 2nd half, goal shy Zlatan Ibrahimovic scoring a cracker (SHIT! Did you see that? He must have a foot like a traction engine!) to open the Swedes account.
Elsewhere the Croats were rather fortunate to beat the co-hosts, Austria, in a fairly dull match and without Arsenal's Eduardo they look to be rather toothless upfront.
Lastly and, almost certainly, leastly France vs Romania managed to turn the GROUP OF DEATH into the Group of Dearth with their nil-nil draw being quite possibly the worst match in the history of the European Championships. Romania got the draw that they were clearly playing for (although quite how they think they'll beat either Italy or Holland playing like that I don't know) and France looking completely out-of-sorts.
If Romania had shown any sort of attacking instinct then my prediction for an upset by them may've come true.
Liking - Spain and the Netherlands for their fluid fast flowing pass-and-move football. Italy getting twatted especially with a contentious opening goal. The overhead camera shots that make matches look like an updated version of top Commodore Amiga game, "Sensible Soccer".
Disliking - The BBC and ITV's need to link everything to the Premier League and English football. Lee Dixon as a pundit, utterly useless, he makes Man of God, Gavin Peacock, seem like a footballing Einstein.