The 2020 European Championship is slowly drawing to a close, with the July 11, 2021 final less than two weeks away. Starting on Friday is the quarter final stage, with the best 8 teams of Euro 2020 going head to head for a place in the last 4. France were sent home by Switzerland, reigning champions Portugal were knocked out by Belgium and Germany suffered a crushing defeat to England. Here are my predictions and who I think will be progressing to the Euro 2020 semi finals.
SWITZERLAND vs SPAIN
Both sides secured progression to the last 8 in dramatic fashion, but Switzerland stole the show by taking the French to penalties and eliminating the favourites for the tournament. Spain, by contrast, should have had their last 16 tie against Croatia wrapped up in 90 minutes but two late Croatia goals sent the game to extra time and Spain ran out 5-3 winners in the end.
I have heard many disregarding the Swiss after their last 16 heroics, with some stating that they will be burnt out after a long and gruelling contest where they had to recover from 3-1 down to send the game to extra time and penalties. That could happen but in this case I don’t think the extra 30 minutes and penalties will have any impact.
This is going to be a very tight game with both sides creating plenty of chances early on. Both goalkeepers will be called into action, pulling off stunning saves and the first half will remain deadlocked. In the second half, Xherdan Shaqiri will fire Switzerland into the lead but cancelled out by a late Alvaro Morata equaliser to send both sides into extra time for a second consecutive game.
Both teams are going to have tired legs in extra time, but Switzerland will find a shock late winner through Haris Seferovic to book their place in the semi final and end Spain’s chances of a 3rd European title since 2008.
BELGIUM vs ITALY
Belgium’s reward for sending the reigning champions home is another tough game, this time against the former world champions and Euro 2012 runners up. This Belgium team is littered with quality and they’ve looked like one of the best teams in the whole tournament. This is most likely their best chance of winning major silverware and they’re going to be 100% prepared.
Italy looked flawless in the group stage, and reminded everyone of why they should be considered as one of the favourites for the title. They were fortunate to come through their last 16 clash with Austria in extra time but this is a whole new game and Roberto Mancini’s side won’t go down without a fight.
For me, this game is going to belong to Belgium. The way they held onto their narrow lead over the Portuguese and battled back from a goal down against Denmark have to be admired and those games prove how mentally strong the Belgians are. Belgium will grab a first half lead through Romelu Lukaku before a Lorenzo Insigne equaliser sets up a very nervy ending, but then Thorgan Hazard will pop up late in the day to snatch the win and book Belgium’s place in the semis against Switzerland.
CZECH REPUBLIC vs DENMARK
This has the potential to be the closest game of all the quarter final ties. Denmark have been a team inspired after Christian Eriksen suffered a cardiac arrest in Denmark’s opener against Finland. After two games, Denmark were down and out but 8 goals across two games have booked them a place in the last 8. The Czech Republic were being tipped by some to finish rock bottom of their group, but they were a win or draw against England away from finishing top of their group. They brushed aside 10 man Netherlands in the last 16 and definitely should not be underestimated.
Both sides finished as group runners up and the Czechs showed absolutely no fear while Denmark’s 4-2 battering of Russia booked their place in the last 16 against the odds.
Both teams are going to be nervous going into this game. There is a place in the semi finals on the line and potentially a place in the final. The first goal of this game is going to be absolutely crucial because it’s going to be a stomach settling deadlock breaker. Denmark have been ruthless in front of goal in their last two games and I see the Danes taking an early lead through Kasper Dolberg, and doubling their lead in the second half through Joakim Maehle and that will be the end of the Czech Republic’s Euro 2020 journey.
UKRAINE vs ENGLAND
The English media have to be the most frustrating media ever. There are still 8 teams remaining and a difficult quarter final against Ukraine, yet the tabloids are still talking about premonitions of 1966 and who their potential final opponents will be. I hold no grudges against England but their blatant disrespect towards their opponents is sickening.
Ukraine were the narrow outsiders against Sweden and Andriy Shevchenko has done a fantastic job to get Ukraine this far, considering this is their 3rd Eurooean Championship and the previous two attempts saw them fall at the group stage.
I always maintain the power of momentum should never be underestimated. The momentum is with Ukraine and there is absolutely no pressure on their shoulders. This is their first quarter final and they’re up against the new “favourites” for the tournament. All the pressure is on England and if the English get off to a bad start, Gareth Southgate is going to be in serious trouble.
This is where all the hype and media attention finally takes its toll on England. All the disrespect towards their competition will bite them in this game, where the three lions once again bottle the chance to win major silverware. More than that, this is a better chance than their world cup chances before the semi final in 2018.
Ukraine won’t fear the English and Shevchenko’s team are going to hit the ground running, taking the lead inside the opening 20 minutes thanks to Andriy Yarmolenko, and they’ll hang onto that lead going into half time. Raheem Sterling will find an equaliser in the second half, but nerves are going to set in and Ukraine will take full advantage by finding the winner in the final 15 minutes to break the hearts of the England fans and to ensure football won’t be “coming home” in 2021.
This win would set up a semi final with Denmark and that would be a very tight game that could potentially go all the way. For England, it’s another year of bottling a chance to win major silverware for the first time since 1966.
Switzerland 2-1 Spain (AET)
Belgium 2-1 Italy
Czech Republic 0-2 Denmark
Ukraine 2-1 England