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Mbappe might not play again in Euro 2024 Image Credit: Reuters

With the first round of fixtures at Euro 2024 coming to a close after Portugal edged past the Czech Republic last night, we take a look at some of the key talking points from the opening games in Germany.

Will Mbappe feature again?

The star attraction of this year’s European Championship, Kylian Mbappe, is in real danger of only featuring for 90 minutes.

The 25-year-old forward was forced off during France’s 1-0 win over Austria after his face hit opponent Kevin Danso's shoulder in the follow-through from an aerial challenge.

France's forward Kylian Mbappe reacts
Kylian Mbappe will be a huge miss to the French team Image Credit: AFP

While he didn’t require any immediate surgery, France Football Federation chief, Philippe Diallo, told a news conference that it was “too soon to know” if Mbappe will play again in Germany.

Plans are in place to get a protective mask custom-made should he return, but it remains highly unlikely the World Cup winner will feature again in the group stage. That’s bad news for the French, who go up against the Netherlands on Friday in what is likely to be the decider for which team finishes top of Group D.

Germany look strong

Before the tournament begun England and France were favourites to lift the trophy, but the duo failed to impress during Matchday 1, laboring to 1-0 victories over Serbia and Austria respectively. In fact it was a team that looked poor in the last three international tournaments that really showed their star power – the Germans.

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Jamal Musiala bagged a goal against Scotland Image Credit: AFP

They cruised to a 5-1 triumph over Scotland in the opening match, with the young duo of Jamal Musiala and Florian Wirtz particularly impressive at the Aliianz Arena. The pair breezed past the Scottish defence at will, while also scoring a goal apiece to cap off a memorable night in Munich. I wrote before the tournament that you should never write off the Germans – based on this performance, they could well go far.

Romania live up to dark horses tag

Another prediction of mine ahead of the tournament was that Romania and Hungary would be the dark horses of Euro 2024. Hungary failed to live up to my hype with a disappointing 3-1 defeat against Switzerland, but Romania shone in their opener against Ukraine, recording their first victory at a European Championship in 24 years.

Romania only conceded five goals throughout qualifying, with that water-tight unit impressing once again in Munich, keeping a clean sheet while putting three past Real Madrid’s Andriy Lunin in the Ukrainian net.

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Romania picked up their first European Championship win since 2000 Image Credit: AFP

The result proved the Tricolours’ unbeaten qualifying campaign was no fluke, and they are now in a strong position to reach the last 16 with Slovakia up next on Friday. A win would guarantee them a spot in the knockout stages, while a draw will also go a long way in ensuring a place in the next round. 

Youngsters shine

Youngsters have taken centre stage over the last five days.

As well as the aforementioned Musiala and Wirtz shining on the biggest stage, Arda Guler and Francisco Conceicao also stole the limelight after bagging goals for Turkey and Portugal respectively.

Guler, who plays for Real Madrid, became the youngest player to score on his European Championship debut at the age of 19 thanks to a sublime strike from distance against Georgia. It’s no wonder the Ay-Yıldızlılar supporters call him the ‘Turkish Messi’.

Conceicao, 21, continued the trend of young players impressing.

The youngster was brought on a sub in the dying stages against the Czech Republic, with commentator Danny Murphy stating ‘what is he meant to do in three minutes?’. The Englishman was left eating those words after Conceicao tucked away an injury-time winner just 111 seconds after being introduced.

Let’s not also forget Lamine Yamal becoming the youngest man to play at the European Championship at the tender age of just 16. The next generation of European football is in safe hands.