Last night saw some unbelievable, literally as well, football action. EURO 2020 caught on fire. 14 goals. A classic, monumental blunder by a keeper. Penalty saves. Heroic comebacks. Twists and turns. Extra time. Nervous penalty shoot outs. And when the dust settled, one massive upset. The French are going home as Mbappé, of all players, saw his penalty stopped by the Swiss keeper. The Croatians came close but in the end the Spanish won. They all showed the world why football is called The Beautiful Game.
Tuesday, 29 June 2021
ENGLAND vs GERMANY
In one of the most exciting matches of this round, three-time champion Germany plays dangerous outsider England, who has the home advantage at Wembley.
Despite winning the group, England hasn’t shown their best yet with two narrow wins over Croatia and Czech Republic and a painful, goalless draw against UK rivals Scotland. The English have an exciting team but scored only two goals in the first three matches; both by Raheem Sterling. Can he and fellow striker Kane lead the Three Lions past the German defence to take another step in bringing football home?
Germany’s form has not been great yet either. After the opening defeat against the French (0-1), they displayed some of their best football against Portugal in a 4-2 win, although truth to be told, it was Portugal who scored 4 goals. Only a last-minute equaliser secured them a disappointing draw against Hungary and an embarrassing early exit. So it has not all been Oktoberfest yet for the Germans, but then again, they are the Germans!
SWEDEN vs UKRAINE
Sweden were the surprising winners of group E. After they held Spain to a goalless draw and beat Slovakia with a minimal 1-0, the Scandinavians snatched a swede win over Lewandowski’s Poland with a goal in extra time. RB Leipzig midfielder Forsberg has scored three goals so far and seems to fill the big boots of his illustrious countryman Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who recently came out of retirement only to have to withdraw due to an injury. Can coach Andersson assemble a great team and frustrate the Ukrainians into IKEA visitors on a Sunday afternoon?
Ukraine survived their group despite defeats against the Netherlands (2-3) and Austria (0-1). A narrow win over North Macedonia (2-1) was enough to get them through to the quarterfinals with just three points. So far it is their politically sensitive jersey that has captured headlines (and sparked outrage in Russia). But can the team also create headlines with their football and make their coach, Milan hero, and former politician, Andriy Shevchenko proud?
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Monday, 28 June 2021
CROATIA vs SPAIN
World Cup finalist Croatia faces heavyweight Spain in Copenhagen, today at 6pm local time.
Croatia lost their opening match against England, drew against Czech Republic, but qualified after sending Scotland home in their last group match. 35-year-old midfielder Modric, finally showed his magic against the brave Scots with a stunning goal and an assist. Will the Real Madrid midfielder be able to inspire his team again and send some of his Spanish League competitors home early?
Three-times EURO champions Spain, who have not selected any player from Real Madrid (!), surprisingly finished second in their group. After draws against Sweden (the group winners) and Poland, did they finally take the bull by the horns with a 5-0 victory over Slovakia. Can coach Luis Enrique inspire his tiki-taka matadors again to overcome Croatia too (and start converting penalties)?
FRANCE vs SWITZERLAND
Reigning World Cup champion and two-times EURO winners France meet Alpine neighbour Switzerland in today’s 9pm (local time) match in Bucharest, Romania.
Tournament favourite France came out on top in the Group of Death. A narrow win over rivals Germany (1-0) and draws against Hungary (!) and Portugal (a dramatic match with 3 penalty goals) secured today’s confrontation with Group A’s number 3. Can chef Didier Deschamps steer his talented and attacking side towards another deja vu?
The Swiss reached the knockout phase collecting a win, draw and loss. The loss against Italy was expected. The draw against Wales perhaps not, but the win against Turkey made up for that; the match saw some wonderful goals. Liverpool benchwarmer Shaqiri rose to the occasion with 2 goals. Can the Swiss increase their precision against the French or will Les Bleus make the Swiss guards look like Swiss cheese?
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Sunday, 27 June 2021
NETHERLANDS vs CZECH REPUBLIC
In the first match of the day, the Netherlands faces Czech Republic in Budapest at 6pm (local time), in one of the stadiums that allow all seats to be filled. The winner will play Denmark in the quarterfinals. The Danes scored another 4 goals when they beat Wales last night with 4-0.
The Netherlands had a rocky preparation but won all their group matches (against Ukraine, Austria and North Macedonia) and scored the most group goals in the process, eight in total. Although the one-time EURO winner (1988) is not considered a favourite for the title, the Dutch masters are one of the (rising) dark horses. Will the lowlands experience another high today against the Czechs?
The Czechs survived group D despite coming in third, losing the second place to Croatia only on goals scored. Czech Republic lost against England, beat Scotland, and drew against Croatia. They too are a one-time EURO winner, when it was still part of Czechoslovakia, in 1976. Since becoming an independent nation, the Czechs have been present at seven successive final tournaments. Budapest is not far from the Czech border and many Czechs are expected in Budapest to face off with the famed Orange Army. How important is their ‘near home’ advantage going to be today?
BELGIUM vs PORTUGAL
Today’s 9pm match sees reigning champions Portugal meet world number one Belgium, one of the tournament favourites, in Seville, Spain. After this major clash, the winner faces another uphill battle, Italy. The Italians themselves experienced a tough evening and needed extra time to send Austria home with a narrow 2-1.
For Belgium’s golden generation a tournament win has become something of a must. For their older players it is now or never. The squad is filled with experience and sheer talent with players such as Lulaku, De Bruyne and Hazard, to name just a few. Belgium won all their group matches (against Denmark, Finland and Russia) but the Red Devils will need to bring all their tricks and rituals to beat the champions.
Portugal survived the Group of Death as the number 3. They beat Hungary but were defeated by Germany in spectacular fashion and themselves. A draw against reigning World Champions France was enough for the next round. Ronaldo is on fire; he scored 5 goals this tournament so far. After a disappointing season at Juventus, it seems CR7 has something to prove. But can his teammates follow their 36-year-old sugar-free captain?
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WALES vs DENMARK
First up tonight are Wales and Denmark, who meet each other in Amsterdam at 6pm local time.
Wales is a surprising survivor of Group A; beating under-performer Turkey (zero points) and drawing against Switzerland secured them the number 2 spot despite a loss against group winner Italy. 31-year-old captain and Real Madrid forward Gareth Bale has not been able to show his class yet. Will the alien believer find his magic in time for the close encounter with Denmark, or will he have to phone home?
The Danes, surprise winners of the EUROS in 1992, have become fan favourites after the tragic incident with their star player Christian Eriksen. After losing in that emotional match against Finland, and against Belgium, their spectacular 4-1 victory over Russia secured them a second spot in the group. Now that Eriksen has left the hospital, the team spirit might be stronger than ever. Will this be enough for the Vikings to conquer the Welsh?
ITALY vs AUSTRIA
Today’s second EURO 2020 match sees one of the tournament favourites, Italy, square off with Austria in England’s football temple, Wembley Stadium, at 9pm local time.
One-time EURO winner Italy (1968) breezed through their group with 3 wins over Wales, Switzerland, and Turkey, and without conceding a goal—a historic achievement. Azzurri heroes coach Roberto Mancini and assistant Gianluca Vialli have created an, perhaps un-Italian, attacking team, scoring 7 goals so far. Will they veni, vidi and vici?
Austria secured the 2nd spot in group C. Wins over North Macedonia and Ukraine cancelled out their 2-0 defeat against the Dutch. The team consists of players playing for some of the big teams in Germany. Will their solid Bundesliga experience help them beat the fancy Italians?
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