The duel for Euro 2020 glory has continued to provide first-class entertainment and online banter over the weekend during the quarterfinals.
In the four matches that were held on Friday and Saturday, only one game was decided with a margin of more than one goal.
|Spain 1-1 Switzerland (Spain advanced 3-1 on penalties)|
|Italy 2-1 Belgium|
|Czech Republic 1-2 Denmark|
|England 4-0 Ukraine|
Spain battled to a penalty shootout win over Switzerland in a game that could have gone either way. The Swiss have been a really great story in this tournament, they won only one of their group games, yet they still advanced all the way to the quarters. A red card to Remo Freulier in this game ended their chances of winning it in normal time, and Spain won easily in the penalties.
A surprising stat: no team has ever won two penalty shootouts at the same tournament in the history of Euros. Something to think about should Italy vs Spain go to the lottery, perhaps, on DStv Channel 224 as well as GOtv Channel 32.
Italy was brilliant, especially in the first half, against Belgium. Belgium had many injuries, indeed, Kevin de Bruyne was playing with torn ligaments in his ankle. Italy has been amazing this tournament, and they have nothing to fear against Spain, in my opinion.
The Danes continued their amazing story of the tournament. After losing their captain Christian Eriksen to a near-death experience in their first game against Finland, they have regrouped and made the semis by playing impressive, counter-attacking football. The Danes have depth in attack, with Kasper Dolberg, Damsgaard, Braithwaite and Poulsen all capable of scoring and assisting goals. They made light work of the Czechs, despite the spirited Czech comeback in the second half.
England thrashed Ukraine 4-0 as they continue their impressive run in this competition. England has not conceded a single goal in their five matches so far. Harry Kane scored twice, Jordan Henderson also scored, and is surely in contention to start ahead of either Declan Rice or Kalvin Phillips in the semis.
|Game||Time and venue (East African Time)|
|Italy vs Spain||10pm, Tuesday, 6th July at Wembley stadium, London|
|England vs Denmark||10pm, Wednesday, 7th July at Wembley stadium, London|
Preview and predictions
Italy vs Spain is going to be a cracker of a match. Both teams have very decorated coaches, Italy’s Roberto Mancini and Spain’s Luis Enrique have won amazing accolades and have the experience to change games using subs, as well as change tactics and strategy in the game. I feel Italy have the edge here, a key question is whether Italy striker Ciro Immobile starts or Belotti gets the nod. Spain has not won a knockout game in normal time so far, going to extra-time against both Croatia and Switzerland. I think this duel marks the end of their journey.
England vs Denmark is a great contest between two very good defensive sides. Denmark plays 3-4-3 formation, and left fullback Joakim Maehle is a great crosser of the ball and one of the best at this tournament. Will England play a similar 3-4-3, or will they stick to the 4-3-3 that worked well against Ukraine?
England has enough quality to win this game, and Harry Kane is getting into form at just the right time. However, Denmark is solid, experienced, defensively stout and will pose harder questions to the English than Ukraine or Germany did. England could pip this one 2-1.
I am still leading in the Maudhui league, although I’m dusting myself from the hit in the last 16 leg. I had loaded up on Spanish attackers, expecting them to thrash the Swiss, and this didn’t happen. Join me here as the tournament comes to an end.