Roberto Mancini made eight changes to his side but retained the services of Jorginho in midfield, while Emerson Palmieri made his first appearance at a major finals at left-back in a tweaked back four. For Wales, Ethan Ampadu came in as the middle centre-back in a three-man defence as one of their three alterations from last time out.
As expected, the hosts enjoyed most of the play and ended the game with 23 goal attempts, six of which were on target. The first of that half-dozen was taken by Emerson, who was handed licence to roam forward endlessly from left-back. The 26-year-old fired in a decent effort after 15 minutes but saw Wales keeper Danny Ward make a comfortable stop.
The defender also saw a speculative penalty appeal waved away on the half-hour mark, while Jorginho continued his excellent tournament form busying himself in central areas, alongside the returning Marco Verratti and goalscorer Pessina.
The Chelsea number five was withdrawn after 75 minutes and exited the action with an incredible 98 per cent pass completion, alongside two key passes and two take-ons.
The young German faced plenty of difficulties early in his first year in England, adapting to life in a new country during a pandemic, while suffering from injury and illness, but came through it all to finish the season with the greatest moment of his career so far.
Once those initial fitness concerns were behind him, Havertz’s attacking versatility became crucial to our tactical flexibility, especially under Thomas Tuchel in the latter stages of 2020/21, in addition to his combined 20 goals and assists, becoming most obvious at the business end of our triumphant Champions League campaign against Real Madrid and Manchester City.
Following a defeat to France in their opening game, the win was important for Germany’s hopes of advancing to the last 16 and Havertz pinpointed the team’s refusal to panic in the intervening days as crucial to their bright response.
On a personal note, after netting the Champions League final winner late last month, a first tournament goal for his country represented another milestone in the young forward’s burgeoning career.
‘It was important not to throw everything overboard after the France game, but to stay true to ourselves,’ he continued. ‘We trust the system and we trust the players.
‘I also trust my own strengths and I’m happy to have contributed with a goal.’
The home side weren’t finished, either, as Havertz’s through-ball gave Kimmich the space to chip a cross to the back post, where Gosens was waiting to head in and make it four.
Portugal pulled one back when Rudiger couldn’t prevent Jota tapping in at the back post from a set-piece and started to apply some pressure of their own, the Chelsea defender making a vital clearance in the six-yard box before Renato Sanches struck the post with powerful effort from range.
After picking up a booking for an untidy tackle, Havertz was substituted with a little less than 20 minutes remaining as Germany looked to sure things up at the back and see out the game with their two-goal lead.
Rudiger and Co stayed strong at the back to reach the end with that lead intact, meaning they go second in Group G, ahead of Portugal on head-to-head record, one point behind leaders France going into their last group game against Hungary.
In the day’s evening kick-off, Cesar Azpilicueta was an unused substitute for Spain as they drew 1-1 with Poland, when former Chelsea striker Alvaro Morata opened the scoring in Seville before the home side were pegged back by Robert Lewandowski’s header. That result leaves Spain in third place in Group E on two points, one point behind their next opponents Slovakia.
They went straight for the second goal, with substitute Ousmane Dembele hitting the post and Kante side-footing a first-time shot narrowly wide from 25 yards.
As France chased the win, Giroud was introduced from the bench by Deschamps, and was unlucky not to create a decisive goal after his clever touch found Mbappe free in the box, but the Paris Saint-Germain forward fired his shot straight at the goalkeeper.
A foul on Kante in the corner gave France a final chance to find a winner in added time, but play was delayed as two Hungary defenders went down injured, followed by a VAR check for a possible French penalty, and then Varane headed just wide with the last attack of the game.
That meant the game finished 1-1 and France will be disappointed not to have taken another win, but it is a result which guarantees Les Bleus will go into their last group game occupying a top-two spot in the table, knowing another draw against Portugal would ensure they make the next round regardless of other results.
‘We have a good relationship with the community, with Hammersmith and Fulham Council. We’ve had very good relationships for many years with the hospitals in this area. We recognise that as a football club we have an obligation to help our community and we do everything we can.’
Buck also explained why Chelsea’s facilities and experience managing crowds helped make the pop-up vaccination centre at Stamford Bridge such a big success.
‘We have the kind of venue that is suitable for this, we have experience of moving people around efficiently in an organised way and we’re committed to doing a really good job working with the NHS, today, as we have done in the last year and as we will do in the future. So we’re perfectly suited to doing this.
‘This is just one of many things we’ve done over the last year and a bit, including providing hundreds of hotel rooms to NHS staff, thousands of lunches, working with mental health, working against domestic abuse. We’re part of this community, we’re in a difficult time now and we’re trying to do everything we can to help things.’
Pictures courtesy of James O Jenkins
Mateo Kovacic has highlighted himself as one of the best midfielders in the world during his career and this can be highlighted as he has played for some of the top clubs in Europe, and not just impressing through performances, but also by winning some of the most prestigious competitions in the entire world with. Due to this, we thought we’d look back over his career and examine just how well he’s done at each club and where he has played his best football.
Kovacic really broke him name onto the world stage when he moved to Inter Milan in 2013 from Dynamo Zagreb where he was nominated for the Golden Boy award. He was signed for a reported €15 million, and he was instantly given the number 10 shirt which shows the quality that he showed at such a young age. During his first two season though, Kovacic did struggle to nail down a starting line-up position, but during the 2014-15 season, he started in strong fashion, scoring a hattrick.
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During August 2015 though, the then Internet manager described that Inter were forced to sell Kovacic to Real Madrid due to Financial Fair Play regulations, something that Inter were gutted about but explained that there was nothing that they could do. Again, Kovacic was used more of a substitute during his career at Real Madrid, but he will understand that this period at Real he was competing against one of the best midfields in the world including Toni Kroos, Luka Modric, and Casemiro who went on to win three Champions League finals back-to-back.
And finally, a place in which Kovacic has finally found a home has been at Chelsea where he has become a regular starting for the west London club. He has also seen some success during his period at Chelsea, including recently winning the Champions League, the Europa League back in 2019 and will be hoping that he can add the Premier League title to his trophy cabinet next season as Chelsea go in as second favourites for the title next year as Thomas Tuchel looks to continue to his success since joining.
Van Ginkel joined Chelsea from Vitesse Arnhem in 2013 and made four appearances for the Blues in his first season, all early on before suffering that initial serious injury in a League Cup win at Swindon Town. He returned to be named among the substitutes for both legs of our Champions League semi-final against Atletico Madrid.
He then spent time at AC Milan and Stoke City, before his first loan spell with PSV in January 2016, when his eight league goals in 16 games from midfield, including one on his debut, played a big part in the Eindhoven side retaining the Eredivisie title that year.
Injury meant he missed the start of the next season but following his recovery he returned to the Phillips Stadion for another loan, later extended to 18 months, when the transfer window reopened in January 2017.
Following this week’s publication of the full fixture schedule for the new campaign, the Premier League has now confirmed the TV selections for the month of August, which features three rounds of league action.
Our trip to the Emirates to take on Arsenal will now take place on Sunday 22 August, with kick-off at 4.30pm.
Meanwhile, a week later we head up to Merseyside to face Liverpool at Anfield. That remains on Saturday 28 August with a later kick-off time of 5.30pm. Both matches are to be screened live in the UK on Sky Sports.
Thomas Tuchel’s men begin the new term at home to Crystal Palace on Saturday 14 August at 3pm. Before then, we contest the Super Cup against Villarreal in Belfast three days earlier.
The Chelsea defender, who went off injured during the Champions League final, played the full game for his nation as they won 4-0 against Peru in Rio. The tournament is hosted by Brazil.
The home nation were following up on a 3-0 success in their opening group-stage match against Venezuela. Thiago Silva remained on the bench for that one.
In the Peru match the goals came from Juventus’ Alex Sandro and from Neymar with two substitutes then weighing in, Richarlison completing the scoring close to the end after Flamengo’s Everton Ribeiro had netted the third from Richarlison’s cross.