Switzerland v Spain
Belgium v Italy
Czech Rep v Denmark
Ukraine v England
ZURICH – The Euro 2020 quarter-finals kick off this Friday afternoon, when the survivors of manic Monday meet in St Petersburg. Switzerland beat world champions France in a dramatic encounter in Romania in the last 16. After taking an early lead and then missing their chance to double it from the penalty spot, Switzerland had to fight back from 3-1 down to take the game to extra time before eventually winning on penalties.
Next up is a meeting with Spain, in which Switzerland will have to do without the services of captain Granit Xhaka. The Arsenal midfielder received his second yellow card of the tournament on Monday night, so Denis Zakaria will have to deputise alongside Remo Freuler. Switzerland manager Vladimir Petkovic must also decide whether to stick with Silvan Widmer at right wing-back or recall Kevin Mbabu to the XI. Other than that, the Switzerland team largely picks itself.
In the Spain camp, David De Gea recovered from a thigh injury sustained in training to take his place on the bench in their 5-3 extra-time win over Croatia, meaning Luis Enrique has a full squad for the quarter-final. José Gayà deputised for Jordi Alba at left-back in Monday’s entertaining encounter in Copenhagen, but Alba is expected to return.
Eric García is likely to continue alongside Aymeric Laporte at the heart of the defence, however Enrique has a decision to make up front. Ferran Torres started against Croatia and played an important role but Dani Olmo impressed off the bench, with the pair in competition to join Álvaro Morata and Pablo Sarabia in the frontline.
The tie of the round. Belgium may be without two of their key men for their meeting with Italy on Friday night. Both Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard were forced off in their victory over Portugal in the last-16 stage and the pair are huge doubts for the game in Munich. Dries Mertens and Yannick Carrasco came on for De Bruyne and Hazard, respectively, and they are likely to start alongside Romelu Lukaku in Belgium’s front three should the pair fail to recover.
Italy’s Federico Chiesa, left, celebrates with his teammates after scoring his side’s opening goal during the Euro 2020 soccer championship round of 16 match between Italy and Austria at Wembley stadium in London, Saturday, June 26, 2021.
Timothy Castagne broke his eye socket in Belgium’s opening game and will miss the rest of tournament, with Thomas Meunier continuing to deputise for the Leicester full-back. Despite the injuries in his squad, Roberto Martínez will be confident in the players at his disposal. Dedryck Boyata, Jason Denayer and Thomas Vermaelen have all started two of Belgium’s four games so far. Having looked solid in the 1-0 win over Portugal, Vermaelen is likely to get the nod alongside Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld in defence.
Giorgio Chiellini was forced off during Italy’s 3-0 win over Switzerland in the group and has sat out of their wins over Wales and Austria. Italy are confident that the 36-year-old centre-back is ready to return and replace Francesco Acerbi. Alessandro Florenzi is also a doubt for Italy, who remain without Lorenzo Pellegrini.
Federico Chiesa and Matteo Pessina came off the bench to score decisive goals against Austria on Saturday and the duo are pushing for starting spots against Belgium. Roberto Mancini could use Chiesa from the outset in place of Domenico Berardi on the right, but Pessina is unlikely to dislodge any of Marco Verratti, Jorginho or Nicolò Barella in the middle of the park.
After springing an upset against the Netherlands in the last 16, the difficulty level for the Czech Republic does not let up as they prepare for a quarter-final with Denmark, who trounced Wales 4-0 over the weekend. Left-back Jan Boril missed the 2-0 win over the Netherlands due to a ban, but his return should lead to Pavel Kaderabek dropping out of the starting XI.
Antonin Barak and Petr Sevcik were surprise starters in Budapest and may keep their places in the side at the expense of Jakub Jantko and Vladimir Darida. Patrik Schick will lead the line as he aims to add to his four goals at Euro 2020 and catch Cristiano Ronaldo in the race for the golden boot.
After opening Euro 2020 with back-to-back defeats by Finland and Belgium – the first of which was overshadowed by Christian Eriksen’s hospitalisation – Denmark have regrouped impressively, following up their 4-1 win over Russia with a 4-0 thrashing of Wales. The youngster Mikkel Damsgaard has deputised impressively for Eriksen and looks set to feature behind frontman Kasper Dolberg, who scored twice against Wales on his first start of the competition.
Captain Simon Kjær came off at the break in their last-16 win and is a doubt for Denmark, who have Joachim Andersen on standby. Yussuf Poulsen was not in the matchday squad over the weekend and, like Kjær, will be assessed before the game. Jens Stryger Larsen came in for Daniel Wass at right wing-back and may keep his place after his solid showing against Wales.
Ukraine switched to a three-man defence for their extra-time win over Sweden on Tuesday night and they may use the system again in Rome. That would mean Ruslan Malinovskiy having to settle for a spot on the bench again after coming on after an hour Hampden Park.
Belgium’s Jan Vertonghen, England’s Raheem Sterling, Spain’s Alvaro Morata and Switzerland’s coach Vladimir Petkovic.
The head coach Andriy Shevchenko will be hoping that Andriy Yarmolenko will recover from a knock in time to face England after the West Ham star was forced off in extra time. Artem Dovbyk, who scored the late winner in Glasgow, is in line to deputise if needed. Oleksandr Zubkov is another whose fitness will be assessed, however Denys Popov and Artem Besedin – who was on the receiving end of the high challenge from Marcus Danielson against Sweden – miss out.
Both Kieran Trippier and Declan Rice looked to be carrying knocks at the end of England’s 2-0 win over Germany and need to be assessed, especially as Gareth Southgate ponders sticking with the same system, and XI, that started against Germany. Jack Grealish made an impressive impact off the bench at Wembley, but may be restricted to a substitute’s role once more.
England will not only be thinking about the result but also their discipline. If Rice, Kalvin Phillips, Phil Foden or Harry Maguire are booked against Ukraine on Saturday, they would miss the semi-final meeting with Czech Republic or Denmark, if England can get past Ukraine at the Stadio Olimpico.
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