Euro 2020 – Quarter-Finals
After what has been an electrifying start to the knockouts, followed by a series of upsets and comebacks that led multiple favorites to be knocked out of the tournament. We now advance towards the quarterfinals of the world’s second-biggest international football event.
With the surprising top 8, where half the contenders are underdogs, we can now expect an equally exciting round consisting of games played full of hearts and excitement, and maybe further upsets. So let’s jot down to the squads and try to predict the outcomes of this rather unpredictable event.
Game 1: Spain vs Switzerland
After a shaky start, Spain scored 10 goals in their last two game leading to the quarterfinals. They thumped Slovakia in their final group game followed by a thriller extra-time win against
Croatia, to reclaim their respect as a European giant after a series of criticism for Luis Enrique and his selections. On the other hand, Switzerland did wonders against the French as they beat the current world champions in a thriller penalty. However, the Swiss team will walk on the pitch without their suspended captain, Gareth Xhaka, but Spain has more to lose in the game as for Switzerland, every game is a bonus game.
If we talk about the lineups, the Spanish side is currently quite settled and finding form since the addition of Sergio Busquets. Their most criticized forward, Morata, also scored the crucial extra-time goal to lead them to this game. Luis Enrique will very likely play a 4-3-3 lineup, keeping up with their game against Croatia. Switzerland on the other hand has a lot more to think about, as their main midfielder will miss the game due to suspension. Shaqiri is their obvious second choice as captain, however, they will not want to change the overall formation and should once again play a 4-4-2 holding lineup once again, while bringing in Steven Zuber to fill in for Xhaka.
Personally, I expect attacking football from Spain, seeking out early goals, and with the reliance of Pedri and Busquets in the midfield I expect more procession football from the Spanish. Even after all the drama, I expect Spain to win this encounter but it will not be an easy run as the game will likely proceed to extra-time.
Prediction: Spain wins in extra time.
Game 2: Belgium vs Italy
With Hazard and De Bryune on doubts, the golden generation of Belgium football faces yet another huge challenge to seize an international trophy. Roberto Martinez has carried Belgium to new heights and yet, always falling short of the glory. Likewise, their challenge for this year’s Euro Cup is the red-hot Italy, who are unbeaten in their last 32 international games. The revolutionary rise of Italian football under Roberto Manchini, after what was the nation’s lowest point in football, continues as they seek higher glory.
Earlier in a press conference, Roberto Martinez declared that he wants to wait till the last moment to decide on De Bryune, however, the unavailability of Eden Hazard is confirmed as the former leader of the team faces the biggest downside of his carrier. Nevertheless, Belgium is more likely to stick to their 4-4-3 lineup, with Lukaku as the main striker. Other than De Bryune, Thorgan Hazard and Witsel are in tremendous form in the midfield and are good counterattacking options. On the other hand, Italy is settled with their 4-3-3 lineup, where Insigne and Immobile are regularly scoring and creating assists. The Italian squad has an equally strong defense with Chellini and Bonuchi as one of the best defense duos of recent times.
I personally do not expect too many goals from the game as both teams have a strong defense and will look forward to playing holding football. However, if Italy can get an early head-start, I feel their defense can do the trick and seize the game within the initial 90 minutes.
Prediction: Italy wins with the first 90 minutes.
Game 3: Czech Republic vs Denmark
After a heroic win against the mighty Netherlands, the Czech continues to surprise the world with their impressive run at the Euros. Equal on terms, Denmark qualified for the quarters after another impressive 4-0 win against Wales. The two rather underdogs, face each other in Baku for the third quarterfinals where the winner faces either England or Ukraine.
Picking out a favorite in such close encounters are always a headache, mainly when the stakes are such high that the teams will do necessarily anything to pull out the victory. Both teams had fierce attacks in their previous games leading to this match. Peter Sheck in particular, of Czech, is the second top scorer of the tournament so far, only behind the eliminated Christiano Ronaldo. Whereas Denmark scored 4 goals on back-to-back games proving how lethal they could get if required.
I personally believe a good amount of goals should be scored in the game and the first 90 minutes shall end in a draw. However, there might be a result in the extra-time without proceeding to the penalties and if so, I would place my bets on Czech rather than Denmark because to me they have more squad depth.
Prediction: Czech Republic wins on extra time.
Game 4: England vs Ukraine
Another two very surprising and hard-fought teams are England and Ukraine. Southgate’s England bounced back and in style to eliminate Germany to secure their first European quarterfinals in the last 16 years. After a shaky start to the tournament followed by intense criticism, Southgate finally seems to bring out the best of his squad, even without playing many super talents and constantly rotating the playing 11. Ukraine on the other hand beat Sweden to advance to the semis in a nail-biting game filled with intensity. Their influential coach, Andriy Shevchenko, brought out the best of the team and now will lead them to their greatest challenge.
Meaning no disrespect, England should find a way out of this game, and might just do so without the game ever-extending towards the extra play. Their current 4-3-3 lineup is much successful and judging on the last two performances, Jack Grealish might actually just start the game and play more minutes. Ukraine on the other hand is settled with the 4-4-2 holding lineup with critical counters when asked for.
All in all, I feel England will have the upper hand just for playing in their own backyard, and if the squads are placed with enough considerations They should be the ones heading towards the big final.
Prediction: England wins within the initial time.
Upsets are part of the game, and such big upsets at the biggest games are the reason a lot of fanatics watch football. So being optimistic I place my top four for the semis.
Spain, Italy, Czech Republic, and England.