After a non-stop, breath-taking and history-making few days over which the Euro 2020 round of 16 was fought out, it’s time to turn our attention to the next step – the quarter-finals.
With all round of 16 ties having been played, we now know who the last eight teams of the competitions will face in a bid to make the last four and be within touching distance of the last step.
In anticipation of what should be another drama-filled round of matches, we at 90min decided to rank how entertaining each of the four quarter-final ties will actually be.
This tie is by all means the furthest from being the ‘headliner’.
Let’s not get it twisted, both sides have provided entertainment throughout their Euro 2020 journeys – Patrik Schick has set the competition alight with his 50-yard strike against Scotland and the goal that confirmed the Netherlands’ shock exit from the tournament, while Denmark have showed real character after Christian Eriksen’s collapse on matchday one to produce two phenomenal performances against Russia and Wales in successive games (scoring four in each).
There will be bright sparks on either team and while Denmark boast the more potent creative threats, they’re well matched tactically and in their strong shapes.
It’s a Euro 2020 quarter-final tie – it’s going to be fun to watch. But it probably won’t be the most fun to watch.
Two favourites for the crown go up against each other in this huge quarter-final tie.
Both have special players capable of pulling strings, producing magic and executing that killer moment; both teams have demonstrated staggering defensive solidity and bottle; and both teams come into the match in ridiculous form – it’s going to be tight, even though Kevin De Bruyne might be missing.
Such tight games don’t often make for exciting viewing but, with the players on display, who’s not going to enjoy this match?
It will likely be an intense game of cat and mouse for the most part but, for the little moments of genius that could decide who makes the last four, it’s a must-watch.
Is anyone tired of hearing Three Lions by The Lightning Seeds, Frank Skinner and David Baddiel yet? Nah, didn’t think so.
England’s next step in the tournament comes in Rome as they face Ukraine. The creative onus will be on the Three Lions as space and opportunities will be hard to come by against what will surely be a rigidly set up Ukraine side, so a free-flowing and risk-taking approach will be necessary to make this tie a good – or even bearable – watch.
In this sense the likes of Raheem Sterling and maybe a starting Jack Grealish will be key.
Ukraine are a very well drilled team, and capable of picking and choosing moments to build attacks. They proved their worth in an unbelievably dramatic victory over Sweden, in which Andriy Shevchenko’s men snatched a 120th minute winner to seal their place at this stage.
They play in a structured, collective and considered way, capable of holding their own against teams that may be considered favourites. They’ll have a game plan and will undoubtedly stick to it as long as they can.
The quality of this game solely depends on those England players trusting in their undeniable quality, playing with the freedom to express themselves, and producing the football we know they can.
Over the two round of 16 ties these two sides took part in, there were 14 goals. That tells you all you need to know.
Spain have disproven the idea that they’re incapable of scoring by notching five goals in two consecutive matches – the first nation to do so at a European Championship – and are now Euro 2020’s top scorers. La Roja have players capable of opening up games in an instant in their ranks. The likes of Ferran Torres, Pablo Sarabia, and later on, Dani Olmo and Mikel Oyarzabal were key in stretching the play against Croatia, while 18-year old Pedri continues to mesmerise with his ability to tear up the lines with his movement and skill – the midfield battle should be captivating in this quarter-final tie.
Their fragility at the back will certainly have been looked at by Luis Enrique but, with a midfield in which the only defensive presence is a somewhat languid Sergio Busquets, you’d expect the likes of Xherdan Shaqiri and Breel Embolo to enjoy some space in dangerous positions between Spain’s lines – the latter, especially, showed what a handful he can be against France last time out.
Switzerland, with their system, may look to be a defensive unit but in their giant-killing round of 16 tie with France they showed that they’re more than comfortable holding onto possession and surging forward with menace when the opportunity arises.
They’re a side that so-called favourites have to be very weary of. With the quality they possess all over the field combined with their evident grit and fight on the big occasions, they’re more than worthy of causing big upsets – just ask Didier Deschamps.