surinenglish

A LOOK AT LA LIGA

An experimental team

Älvaro Morata in the game against Sweden.
Älvaro Morata in the game against Sweden. / AFP
  • Spanish football fans didn't approach the tournament with hearts bursting with hope

The Euro show got off to a solid start, no twists or turns, the usual stars rising to the occasion and it's all pretty much as predicted.

Spanish football fans didn't approach the tournament with hearts bursting with hope. It doesn't help when the country's biggest club doesn't have a representative in the national team squad and the games are played in Andalucía.

It's an experimental team thrown into a major event, lacking any national expectation; there's also a lack of backing for the coach Luis Enrique. It's almost a throwback to the days of general inertia, before Spain ruled football in Europe and then the world.

Luis Enrique can use this to his advantage. The team made a satisfactory start: they created a possession record in the opening game against Sweden - without scoring a goal. The one thing we hadn't missed about fans inside the stadium was the singling out of an individual for terrace abuse.

Alvaro Morata unfairly suffered whistles from a significant number of those attending the game for not taking the chances he created as a result of his endeavours. This would be more understandable if he was keeping out an obvious rival. I suspect the coach will keep him in place and not bow to public pressure.

Clearly the Spain team isn't the finished article. Dani Olmo and Pedri were surprise starters for the opener. Fabian Ruiz, Mikel Oyarzabal, Thiago, Pablo Sarabia, and Gerard Moreno entered the first game as replacements. They will feature as the tournament progresses.

Elsewhere it's pretty much as anticipated.

France are living up to expectations. Portugal are still dependent on Cristiano Ronaldo. Germany, Croatia and the Netherlands look rusty. Italy look fresh and exciting. Belgium's success may depend on Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard finding fitness.

In England, they are convinced that 'football is coming home'. This assertion is based on a bunch of artistic young footballers. Yet, the most lauded players were Kalvin Phillips and Tyrone Mings, two players whose greatest attributes are gutsy work rate and determination.

Scottish readers won't need reminding that their team conceded what will probably be "the goal of the tournament". They have even less expectation that the Spanish but can be proud of the approach of players who are generally competing at a higher level than they do at club level.

I've always been annoyed by the placement of drinks bottles in front of players at press conferences. This clearly irks Ronaldo and Paul Pogba too? Ronaldo removed a Coca-Cola product as he doesn't approve of fizzy drinks. Of course, this has nothing to do with Lionel Messi securing a mega deal with Pepsi.

Thankfully, Christian Eriksen is on the mend and sending messages from his hospital bed. His collapse on the field of Denmark's opening game shocked everyone.

It's a stark reminder that footballers are just entertainers and the real heroes in this world are those who dedicate their lives to saving the lives of others.