The round of sixteen saw the slaying of giants with France, Portugal, Germany and the Netherlands all failing to get through to the quarter finals. 28 goals were scored across the eight games, with three games going to extra time and one going all the way to penalties. With the reigning European champs out, as well as the last two World Cup winners, there’s a major opportunity for some new heroes to etch their names into football folklore. We’ve got you covered with tips & previews for all four Quarter Final matchups this weekend!
Switzerland vs Spain
Saturday 2:00am AEST, Saint Petersburg Stadium
Switzerland pulled off one of the greatest upsets in the history of the Euros, as they stunned reigning world champions France in a 5-4 win on penalties. Paul Pogba looked like he put the game out of reach in the 75th minute when he put France 3-1 up, before goals to Haris Seferovic in the 81st minute and Mario Gavranovic in the 90th minute took the game to extra time. Switzerland went a perfect five from five from the penalty spot, and Yans Sommer saved Kylian Mbappe’s penalty to give Switzerland its first knockout win at a major tournament since 1938. Spain conceded two late goals against Croatia, but steadied in extra time to win 5-3 in an incredible match in Copenhagen.
After scoring just one goal in their first two games and failing to convert an abundance of opportunities, Spain have scored 10 goals in their last two games. In a huge blow for the Swiss, after a man of the match performance against France, Granit Xhaka will miss due to an acclamation of yellow cards. With the way Spain’s midfield is dominating games, it’s going to be a tough task for Switzerland without their captain. Spain have spent the most time in possession so far this tournament by a considerable margin with 67%, Germany are the next best with 59%. Spain have also scored the most goals at the Euro 2020 with 11, with six different goal scorers proving their spread across the field is making up for the lack of their starpower in the striker position.
Switzerland have conceded three goals twice in their four games, and with Spain scoring ten in their last two, this encounter will likely have plenty of goals. Spain have controlled games thanks to their incredible midfield, and the weight of numbers they produce in attempts on goal will overwhelm a Swiss defence that has conceded the most goals in this tournament with eight. Spain’s big game experience will play a massive factor, and their depth across the pitch will be too much for Switzerland to contain.
Belgium vs Italy
Saturday 5:00am AEST, Allianz Arena
The headline clash of the quarter finals takes place in Munich, as Belgium go head to head with Italy. World number one Belgium came into the tournament with high expectations, with this being one of the last opportunities for their golden generation to secure silverware. Italy came into this tournament as dark horses after failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, but have completely exceeded that tag with some utterly dominant football. Both teams are sitting with a perfect four wins from four matches, the only two teams to have achieved this in the entire tournament. Belgium held on by the skin of their teeth to beat Portugal 1-0, despite Portugal having 24 shots on goal to Belgium’s 6.
However injuries to Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard have soured the mood in the Belgium camp, with both set to miss the clash with Italy. It’s a much more positive for Italy who extended their remarkable unbeaten run to 31 games, with a 2-1 win in extra time against Austria. Italy have won their last twelve consecutive games, and have not been defeated since September 2018. This Italian side is typified by a strong defence that has conceded just three goals from their last eighteen matches. Adding to the renowned Italian defence is a dynamic front three of Immobile, Insigne and Berardi who give the Italians attacking firepower that they haven’t possessed in quite some time. Kevin De Bruyne’s injury couldn’t have come at a worse time as Belgium comes up against an Italian midfield that is firing on all cylinders.
Whilst Locatelli, Verratti, Jorginho and Barella have been the main stars, Pessina came off the bench and produced a crucial goal against Austria. The incredible depth they’ve got in midfield is crucial in knockout football when it comes to extra time, as it showed against Austria. With the injuries to De Bruyne and Hazard, this looms as an excellent matchup for the red hot Italian side. This Italian side has been so convincing in every game so far this tournament, and Belgium have looked shaky without De Bruyne. Italy to extend their unbeaten run to 32 games and book a place in the semi finals.
Czech Republic vs Denmark
Sunday 2:00am AEST, Baku Olympic Stadium
The Czech Republic caused a huge upset when they knocked off the undefeated Netherlands in their round of sixteen matchup. The 2-0 victory sets up a date with Denmark, who thumped Wales 4-0 to reach the quarter finals. Denmark are riding a serious wave of momentum having scored four goals in both of their last two games, and are the equal second highest scoring team in the tournament, after struggling in front of goal in their first two games.
They’ve had six different goal scorers, with Dolberg, Maehle and Poulson all scoring multiple goals so far. In comparison, Czech Republic have only had two goal scorers in this tournament. The goals have started flowing for the Danes, but they’ve controlled the tempo of every game they’ve played so far with the stranglehold they’ve taken on games with their ability to control the ball. Denmark have had 58% possession at Euro 2020, ranked third in the tournament, only behind Spain and Germany.
Denmark will focus their defence on Patrik Schick, who has scored four of the Czechs’ five goals in the tournament and if they can limit his influence, the Czech Republic are going to struggle to score. On paper this is a major mismatch, the tenth ranked Denmark going up against the 40th ranked Czech Republic. Whilst they shocked the world by beating the Netherlands, Denmark just has far too much quality for the Czechs to cope with. It’s been a fairytale run for the Czech Republic, but it ends to Denmark at the Quarter Final stage.
Ukraine vs England
Sunday 5:00am AEST, Stadio Olimpico
England was able bury demons of the past by beating Germany at a major tournament for the first time since 1966. Raheem Sterling scored his third goal in four games and Harry Kane finally broke his duck in an excellent English performance, which now gives them a genuine route to the final. An 120th minute winner from Artem Dovbyk saw Ukraine upset Sweden and progress to the quarter finals, remarkably after only picking up three points in the group stage. Gareth Southgate produced a managerial masterclass moving to a five at the back formation which worked so well for England at the 2018 World Cup.
It paid dividends with Luke Shaw playing a hand in both goals as he ran riot down the left hand side with Jack Grealish. Whilst the centre back trio of Kyle Walker, John Stones and Harry Maguire were rock solid in defence, with Maguire man of the match in an outstanding performance. England are unbeaten in their last ten matches, winning nine of them, and haven’t conceded a goal in their last six matches. England are the only team that hasn’t conceded a goal at Euro 2020, and Ukraine are going to struggle to break them down given they don’t have the attacking firepower to penetrate their outstanding defence. England have managed games incredibly well at this tournament, playing conservative football early, before unleashing their attacking weapons off the bench to stretch teams late in games.
Southgate’s use of Jack Grealish off the bench was outstanding against Germany, and with the likes of Phil Foden, Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford at Southgate’s disposal, England will continue to run out games strongly. England now look near certainties to make the final with the way the draw has panned out after the round of sixteen. With a golden opportunity to win their first Euro title, expect England to continue their momentum against a Ukraine outfit that has scrapped its way to the position they are in.
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