We are now at the quarter-final stage of Euro 2020, and things are really heating up!! The last round gave us plenty of surprises, with France, Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal and Croatia all exiting, and that has opened the draw right up. Let’s have a look at each of the four ties and predict who will make it through to the last four.
Switzerland v Spain
This could be a really interesting tie, as Switzerland did really well to come back against France in the last round and force the game to go to penalties. This shows how difficult they are to play against when in form, firing on all cylinders. Meanwhile, Spain edged out Croatia in another exciting game, booking their place in the quarter-finals after extra time, so both teams are capable of going the whole way if that’s what it takes.
For me, Spain have been lukewarm so far, not really showing what they can do. They have lacked a goalscoring presence upfront, with both Alvaro Morata and Gerard Moreno missing good chances to score. The Croatia match forced them to wake up and put on the performance that we know has been there, but hadn’t appeared up until that point.
The main question with Switzerland is if they will be able to come back as they did against France for a second time? Personally, I think they can, and I feel that they will edge Spain in this one, purely because the pressure is not on them, and that could be all they need.
Belgium v Italy
This is another tight one to call, at least on paper. However, given the different performances of both sides in the last round, I am fairly certain that Belgium will go through. With so many heavyweights leaving the competition in the last round, they are surely now the favourites to win the title, and I expect them to get past an Italian side that played well in the group stages, but then struggled to beat a tough Austrian side, playing really poorly in the process.
It will be interesting to see how Belgium set up against Italy, and I would not be surprised if they went for a more defensive or counter-attacking approach, similar to Austria’s approach. Italy did eventually manage to find a way through the Austrians, but I don’t think the same will happen in this game.
Czech Republic v Denmark
This is another tight one to call. The Czech Republic did well to send the Netherlands packing in the last round, playing some good football and taking advantage of the Dutch team’s mistakes to seal their place in the quarter-finals. However, they now go up against a team who have been simply unstoppable, with Denmark blowing Wales away in their Round of 16 match.
The Czech Republic only just made it into the knockouts, and I feel that their squad depth is less than that of Denmark, which could count against them in this game. Denmark seem to have goals all around the pitch, and their wing-back system also increases their numbers in the final third, which is what a lot of teams have struggled against. For that reason, I will go with a Danish win.
Ukraine v England
England will be in high spirits after their win against Germany, but Ukraine are a completely different kettle of fish. They will have a different defensive setup, not leaving as many spaces open, so Raheem Sterling and Bukayo Saka will not have so much time on the ball to make things happen.
Ukraine’s never-say-die attitude has caused plenty of problems for their opponents so far in this tournament, and they can also sit back when needed, as Sweden found out in the last round, so are adaptable to different situations. England will therefore need to play at the same level as they did against Germany, but with a few more probing passes to try and open the Ukrainians up, as anything less will allow them to get into the game, and we know how dangerous they are once that happens. I do think, however, that England will win this game and advance to the semi-finals.