The round of 16 produced some of the best football we have ever seen so the quarter-finals will have a lot to live up to. Four games between eight nations with some very obvious absentee’s non France, nein Germany and não Portugal, this could be any nation’s tournament to win.
2nd july – SWITZERLAND VS SPAIN – krestovsky stadium, saint petersburg – 17:00
Switzerland will play the role of underdog once again as they face the free scoring Spain. The Swiss relish in defying the odds as they knocked out world champions France in the last round, despite the Spanish scoring 10 in their last two games they’re leaky in defence. Breel Embolo’s pace, Xherdan Shaqiri’s x-factor and Haris Seferovic’s aerial ability pose a real threat to their backline. Although they may not be water tight themselves you would fancy Luis Enrqiue’s side to score, unlike many in this tournament they’re not over reliant on one player to find the net with all five of their goals against Croatia coming from different players. A key factor to consider going into this match is Switzerland will be without Granit Xhaka, the Arsenal midfielder putting in a star of the match performance against France, he misses out through a yellow card suspension. Spain will dominate the ball in this tie, play a high line and look to find midfield runners breaking into the box.
(Granit Xhaka celebrates beating France: Getty Images)
2ND JULY – BELGIUM VS ITALY – Fußball Arena München, MUNICH – 20:00
For the neutral, this is the game not to miss among the quarter-finals. Belgium are the world’s number one ranked side and sent Portugal home in the round of 16 while the Italians are 31 games unbeaten under Roberto Mancini’s reign. The Azzuri have impressed with their high intensity passing game, a contrast to the slow paced football we come to expect from their shores. Belgium have looked to play a slower game, their is a different feel surrounding this Belgian side from the past, they have found a pragmatic approach that thrives in major tournaments. However, expect them to change gears as they progress up the pitch with Romelu Lukaku always on the shoulder of the defence, Leonardo Bonucci will be given a lot to think about in this tie. Roberto Mancini has welcomed rotation as he puts confidence in his squad while Roberto Martinez’s hand will be forced into changes with Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne expected to miss the match, a blow for the ‘Red Devils’ and for us watching from home. Each team will know with the opposition left at EURO 2020 they have a great opportunity to be champions, this could be a cagey affair.
(Kevin De Bruyne goes down with an ankle injury against Portugal: Getty Images)
3RD JULY – CZECH REPUBLIC VS DENMARK – baku olympic stadium, baku – 17:00
These two nations have found their success through different methods, the Czech’s are a team built on defensive foundations having conceded just twice so far in the tournament. Patrik Schick is their goal threat, the striker with four goals at EURO 2020, he looks clinical and has great close control that allows him to bring his teammates into the game. Denmark’s new system has seen them go with a gung-ho approach, high tempo vertical passing allows them to progress quickly up the pitch, unlike the Czech Republic they’re sharing the goal scoring responsibility, the eight goals scored in the last two games coming from six different players. This game will depend on the approach of Kasper Hjulmand, if his side keep to their highly attacking philosophy the tie will be blown wide open, expect a game great for neutrals. However, given the importance of this fixture he may look to tweak his system and take a measured approach to attacking the Czech defensive block. Neither of these teams were fancied pre-tournament to make a semi-final but now they have an amazing opportunity.
(Denmark players celebrate against Wales: Getty Images)
3RD JULY – UKRAINE VS ENGLAND – STADIO OLIMPICO, ROME – 20:00
Ukraine find themselves in a EURO 2020 quarter-final despite placing third in their group with just one win to their name. Andriy Shevchenko as a player scored the goals to take his side to this stage of the European Championships before, now he does it once again, this time from the dugout. Although England will naturally have more of the possession in this tie, Ukraine may see this as a ‘free hit’ and look to attack the Three Lions as they have scored twice on three occasions at this tournament. Unfortunately for the Ukrainian’s, England have a stubborn defence, yet to concede at EURO 2020, Gareth Southgate has adopted a reserved approach despite the long list of attacking talent he has at his disposal. He could bring back Jack Grealish, Phil Foden and Mason Mount into the starting XI for added creativity, a frightening thought for the opposition. This is expected to be the most one sided tie of the four but as history suggests England don’t cope well with pressure.
(Jack Grealish joins the action as a substitute against Germany: Getty Images)