The quarterfinals of Euro 2020 features some pre-tournament favorites like Belgium and England, along with Cinderella sides Switzerland and Ukraine. Here’s who will advance.
The Euro 2020 quarterfinals kick off this weekend with eight games that are certain to be as dramatic and riveting as the previous round.
These COVID-delayed Euros have featured plenty of upsets (France, Germany and the Netherlands were eliminated early) and some surprises (primarily in the form of Switzerland and Ukraine).
Belgium and Italy, two teams in top form, meet on Saturday in Munich, the winner advancing to the semifinals and in great position to win the whole thing after emerging from the tougher side of the bracket. England, meanwhile, could meet either of them in the final on July 11 at London’s Wembley Stadium.
It’s still a big if whether Belgium or Italy and England can get to the big game. Standing in their way are plenty of obstacles, and yes, surprises.
Here’s a look at the quarterfinal matchups and who’s favored to advance.
Spain vs Switzerland
Spain have scored an impressive five goals in their last two matches and are coming off an incredible 5-3 extra-time win against Croatia. While Switzerland eliminated France on penalty kicks, there is a question as to whether they have a defense good enough to stop La Roja. The Swiss have made history getting this far, but it will take a major effort to pull off another shocker.
A Switzerland win is not entirely out of the question, but Spain, a three-time European champion, has a young team that’s shown they can compete at the highest level. Alvaro Morata will need to be sharper, but that is possible given his big-game experience. Under manager Luis Enrique, the team has overcome lots of pre-tournament issues, including a COVID-19 outbreak, and appear on track to go far.
Italy vs Belgium
This is the biggest game of the round and features two of the best teams (both are undefeated) so far at this tournament. It’s true that the Italians struggled against Austria in their last match, but the reality is that Roberto Mancini’s side has the offensive tools and an organized backline to beat any team. It’s no surprise, given how they have been playing, that they come into the match riding a 31-game unbeaten streak.
Belgium, No. 1 in the FIFA rankings, has plenty of skill as well, most of it offensive. Romelu Lukaku is a scoring machine and it will take everything the Azzurri have defensively to shut him down. The Red Devils have the oldest roster of any team remaining at this tournament and all that experience will come in handy. Don’t be surprised if the match ends up going to extra time or penalties.
Czech Republic vs Denmark
Few expected both these teams to get this far, especially if you’re thinking of the Czechs. Instead, they shocked the Netherlands and dumped them out of the tournament thanks to their offensive-minded setup. The attack is spearheaded by young striker Patrik Schick, who has overachieved at this tournament.
Denmark, however, are riding an emotional rollercoaster that began at the very start of the tournament when their star player Christen Eriksen collapsed on the field. Medics were able to save his live just in time. The moment galvanized this Danish team as the tournament progressed and they certainly have momentum. They have become the sentimental choice of neutral fans who want to see this feel-good story continue on.
England vs Ukraine
England are on a quest to break a decades-long run of futility at major tournaments. The Three Lions, winners of the World Cup on home soil in 1966, have a real chance this time to win it all. It’s true that some times Gareth Southgate’s team isn’t fun enough to watch, but they do have a strong defense (and have yet to concede a goal at these Euros) and the offense has done just enough under Harry Kane to get the job done.
Ukraine, on the other hand, are like the Swiss and out to make history. Ukraine provided some late-game drama in defeating Sweden in extra time. The win against a well-organized defense doesn’t bode well for the English as Ukraine look to pull off another upset. It’s a tall order, especially with how England is playing at the moment.