Spain 4, Russia 1
Sweden 2, Greece 0
Who better to reign in the rain than Spain? (Although said rain fell in the mountains of Innsbruck, not mostly on the plain.) A hat trick from David Villa got the Spaniards off to a strong start in a 4-1 over Russia. With any other side, this would send a message to the tournament's other 15 teams. But this is Spain, where early tournament success is rarely followed by final glory. Case in point, two years ago, when Spain won their opener against Ukraine 4-0 and cruised through their group at 3-0-0 with a tournament-best +7 goal differential. From there they crashed out in the Round of 16 to France.
Spain's well-timed scoring runs were more than enough to overcome some nervous moments defensively, especially in the first half. They'll need to tighten up in teh back half against the tournament's more talented sides.
Russia had their moments early, hitting the post when the score was only 1-0. They're a better side than the 4-1 score indicates and with Greece and Sweden to follow, don't write off Guus Hiddink troops just yet.
In the second game, Zlatan Ibrahimovic livened up a drab game with a wonderful strike in the 67th minute and Sweden capitalized on some clumsy Greek defending six minutes later to post a 2-0 victory. As they did four years ago, Greece takes a defense-first mindset and looks to suck the life out of the game. Fortunately the skill of one individual brought the contest back to life, as Ibrhaimovic emerged from a rather innocent build-up to find the top corner from just outside the box.
Up next for Swedes are Spain in a match that could decise the honors in Group D. Greece face Russia, a rematch of a group stage game from 2004, where Russia handed teh Greeks their only defeat of the tournament.