EURO 2020: Quarterfinal Preview and Predictions
Football is back! Let’s kick start the weekend with EURO 2020 Quarterfinal Preview and Predictions.
Nothing kicks any tournament football into life like the knockout phases. These are the rounds underdogs cause big upsets, dark horses roar into life and favourites either prove the tag or pack their bags.
A case in point is the fact that very few could’ve seen the Swiss progressing over tournament favourites France after a thrilling 120minutes of football followed by a 5-4win on penalties. As you can probably anticipate, the Euro 2020 quarterfinals will be a different ball game.
EURO 2020 Quarterfinal Preview and few things to expect:
SWITZERLAND vs SPAIN (July 2, 2021, 5 pm)
After both teams battled through extra time to progress to this stage of the competition, both Petkovic and Enrique would be wary of fatigue rearing its ugly head. As a result, both coaches will be looking to seal this one by the end of the 90minutes. We are likely to see a fast start from either team before fatigue kicks in.
The Swiss are likely to deploy the fast tactic more as they will surely be aware of the La Roja’s quality bench. Dani Olmo came on as a super-sub and assisted the two extra-time goals that took them through. Mikel Oyarzabal scored the key goal that provided them with the cushion in extra time.
Spain is the clear favourite in St Petersburg, but Switzerland has threats of their own in Breel Embolo, Xherdan Shaqiri and Mario Gavranovic, though they will be missing Granit Xhaka who is suspended.
The latter did score the vital equalizer in added time against World champions France, while the pace and power of Embolo and Shaqiri could do damage, especially on the counter-attack against a leaky Spanish defence.
Spain likes to hold on to the ball and create their chances through patient buildup with their 4-3-3 formation. This morphs into a 2-3-5 in possession looking to take apart the 3-4-1-2 of the Rossocrociati.
It remains to be seen whether Luis Enrique will look to adapt his tactics to sort his team’s defence. A defence that has conceded 4goals in 4games albeit being the Euros top-scoring team so far with 11goals.
Prediction: La Roja go through with a 2-1 win
Belgium vs Italy (July 2 2021 8 pm)
It’s only fitting that the Allianz Arena will host this clash of titans who both carry the tag of dark horses. With both the tournament favourites France and defending champions Portugal dumped out, the winner here is now in good stead to at least be in the finals.
Both teams cruised through the group stages with 9points from 3games. Belgium 7 goals was the joint second highest goals scored in the group stages with the Azurris.
In the round of 16, both teams scraped through with Italy needing extra time before seeing off Austria. The Red Devils hung unto a stunner from Thorgan Hazard throughout the second half.
Roberto Mancini’s reformed Italy is a team any side would want to avoid. Since November, Azzurris’ defensive unit was only breached once. They also carry an excellent goal threat going forward in the trio of Insigne, Berardi and Ciro Immobile.
Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne are likely to miss out due to injury. But with Lukaku leading the line, Martinez has potent options in his arsenal.
Italy plays in a 4-3-3 system and likes to have possession and build play with a quick short passing style. This could unsettle Belgium’s 3-4-3/5-3-2 or 5-4-1(when defending). Mancini’s men have 56.3% possession stats and 88% passing accuracy so far and could dominate the game. They will have their work cut out for them against a defence that has let in one goal in 4games.
Belgium carries their own tactical prowess as well. They form diamond shapes on either side to create chances through crossing or intricate passing. They also have the option to go long and direct with Romelu Lukaku’s strength and pace.
On the balance of play, both teams seem evenly matched on paper. This could well need extra time or penalties to get through. Individual brilliance can also be another factor that settles this clash between the 1st and 7th placed teams in the world according to FIFA.
Prediction: Belgium 3-2 Italy (AET)
*stats from uefa.com