Euros Quarter Finals Review

by Chris Balding

What a weekend of football!

After the crazy round of 16 which saw some massive upsets the stakes got even higher as we moved into the quarter finals stage.

A common theme has appeared throughout the tournament which has been the unpredictability of all the games, making Euro 2020 one of the best we’ve seen.

Friday 

The weekend of football started with a hotly contested match between Switzerland and Spain. Switzerland put in one of the performances of the tournament to beat the current world champions France to make it to the quarter finals who will meet and a Spanish side not firing on all cylinders who just made the quarterfinals after coming to life in extra time beating Croatia 5-3 after a lackluster 90 minutes.  

The 8pm kickoff featured a mouth watering match between two of the favorites to win the tournament Belgium and Italy. Belgium being the number one ranked team in the world and Manchini’s Italy being the inform team of the tournament made this a game not to miss.

Switzerland Vs Spain 1-1 FT  (P 1-3)

Spain are the first team through to the semis after narrowly beating Switzerland 3-1 on penalties. Switzerland were already on the back foot before the game as their talisman Granit Xhaka missed the game due to a yellow card in the previous game. 

The Spaniards went ahead early after a deflected shot went in off Denis Zakaria. The Swiss equalised after some questionable defending from the Spanish saw Xherdan Shaqiri  capitalise on the error. Soon afterwards the Swiss went down to 10 men after a reckless challenge from Remo Freuler in 77 minute. Even with advantage Spain weren’t able to capitalize in full time and extra time after a great performance by the Swiss goalkeeper Yann Sommer. 

The standards in the penalty shootout was pretty poor as Sergio Busquets hit the woodwork in the first penalty. The Swiss scored their first making it 1-0 but their lead didn’t last as Spain scored their second penalty and Newcastle’s Fabian Schär’s weak effort was saved making it 1-1. Both teams failed to score their third penalty as Manuel Akanji and Man City’s Rodri tamed efforts were both saved. Spain’s Gerard Moreno fired his shot home putting the pressure on Switzerland’s Ruben Vargas which proved too much as his shot sailed over the crossbar. Mikel Oyarzabal coolly slotted his penalty to win the game for Spain. 

In Euros history no other team has progressed through to the next round via a penalty shootout more than the Spanish (Fourth time).

Belgium Vs Italy 1-2 FT

Italy followed Spain into the semi finals as they managed to hold onto a 2-1 lead ending Belgium’s golden generation dreams of winning a major tournament (anyone remember our golden generation?… 😭us too).

Italy thought they took the lead early in the game after a freekick was delivered into the box and put in by Leonardo Bonucci, but when reviewed by VAR it was disallowed due to Bonucci being offside. It was Belgium’s turn to flex their muscles with Kevin De Bruyne’s thunder shot being excellently saved by the Italian goalkeeper. After a poor clearance by the Belgium defence, Nicolò Barella managed to keep his balance and expertly kicked the ball into the bottom corner giving the Italians the lead. 13 minutes later Lorenzo Insigne cut in from the left and drove towards goal and with a brilliant curling shot put the ball out of reach of the Belgium’s keeper extending their lead to 2-0 with one of the goals of the tournament. Late in the first half the pacey Jérémy Doku made a run into the box and was unfairly held back by a Italian defender giving Belgium’s leading goal scorer Romelu Lukaku the chance to reduce the Italian lead which he did in cool fashion. In the second half Lukaku had a chance to equalise after a pass was fired across goal and a yard out Lukaku managed only to hit one of the Italian defenders instead of the gapping goal. Belgium had another couple chances towards the end but their efforts fell short and Italy will now play Spain in the semis. 

Italy have extended their unbeaten run to an impressive 32 games, their longest run ever!

Saturday

The early kickoff was between England’s potential semi finalists opponents, Czech Republic who we beat 1-0 in the group stages and Denmark, one of the favourite underdogs in the tournament.  Since Denmark’s first two losses including the 1-0 defeat to Finland which sadly saw Christian Eriksen collapse the Danish team have been on a resurgence scoring 8 goals in their previous two games. 

The late kickoff saw England play against a fairly strong Ukraine team. England have yet to concede in the tournament and like fine wine have gotten better as time gone on. The last time these two teams played each other was back in the group stages for the 2012 Euros with the three lions winning 1-0.

Czech Republic Vs Denmark 1-2 FT

Denmark booked their place at Wembley in the semi finals with a 2-1 win, their highest finish in a major tournament since winning the Euros back in 1992, could they do it again! 

Denmark came out firing when a corner was crossed into Thomas Delaney who headed the ball past the reach of the Czech’s goalkeeper giving them an early lead 5 minutes in. Czech Republic retaliated with a few chances of their own but fortunately for Denmark they weren’t able to convert. It didn’t take long for Denmark to extend their lead due an outstanding cross to Kasper Dolberg, one of the outstanding players of the tournament, who superbly volleyed the ball into the back of the net. Soon after halftime Czech Republic managed to get one goal back as Patrik Schick scored a volley of his own to make the score 2-1. Both teams had some more half chances in the second half and as Czech Republic threw everything at Denmark it was the heroics of Leicester City’s Kasper Schmeichel who made some crucial saves to ensure Denmark went through to the semis. Can he follow in his legendary father’s footsteps and win the whole thing. 

Ukraine Vs England 0-4 FT

Is it coming home…we sure hope it is! England recorded their biggest ever win at a Euros with an impressive 4-0 win over Ukraine, setting up their first Euro’s semi final for 25 years.

England started the game as they meant to go on as Raheem Sterling cut in from the left to put in a delicious ball for the England captain Harry Kane to neatly finish putting England 1-0  up in the first 5 minutes of the game. Jordan Pickford was forced into a save not long after as Ukraine looked to equalise. One minute into the second half saw a whipped freekick into the box which was headed in by Mr Slab head himself Harry Maguire (his song should be in your head right now). Then to get rid of the nation’s nerves Harry Kane scored a header from a Luke Shaw cross putting the 3 lions up 3-0 (doesn’t that have a nice ring to it). Kane was denied his hattrick after he thundered a volley at the Ukrainian goal which was saved by the goalkeeper. Not content with 3-0 England kept the pressure on Ukraine and another cross saw another goal with Jordan Henderson getting on the end of a corner kick to seal Ukraine’s fate and end the game 4-0 you beauty!

Gareth Southgate is the only England manager to take England to the semi finals in a major tournament since Alf Ramsey in 1966 and 1968 and we all know what happened in 1966… coincidence… we hope not!

Semi Finals 

Italy vs Spain (20:00, Tuesday 6 July, Wembley)

England vs Denmark (20:00, Wednesday 7 July, Wembley)

Follow all the Euros action at @scottsmenswear.

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