After nearly two weeks of matches, the group stages of this year’s European Championships came to a thrilling end, with Group F going through every permutation before France, Portugal and Germany secured their slots into the last 16.
With a two day break, before the knockout stages get underway, we take a look at who will play who – and where – in the next round of Euro 2020.
Wales vs Denmark – Saturday 26 June – Amsterdam – 17.00
Wales qualified from what was considered a tough group that featured Italy, Turkey and Switzerland. A draw against the Swiss and victory over Turkey was enough to secure second spot in Group A. Gareth Bale’s team will be optimistic they can overcome the Danes in Amsterdam, despite the Dutch authorities banning Welsh supporters from travelling due to COVID-19 restrictions.
After the disturbing scenes in Denmark’s opening fixture, involving Christian Eriksen, qualification and football in general was not the main focus of the Danes. With Eriksen recovering well and now out of hospital, his compatriots pulled off qualification with a 4-1 win over Russia in their last group game, having started the match with no points, to finish as one of the best-placed third-placed teams.
Italy vs Austria – Saturday 26 June – London – 20.00
Roberto Mancini has transformed this Italian side and many are now tipping The Azzurri to go all the way. Seven goals from three games, without conceding a goal, has put the Italians firmly at the top of everyone’s list to claim the trophy and with a new attacking style that is somewhat uncharacteristic of an Italian team you can see why. The likes of Ciro Immobile, Manuel Locatelli and Marco Verratti are sure to continue to excite fans.
Austria claimed their first ever win in a European Championship when they defeated North Macedonia 3-1 on match day one and despite Marko Arnautovic’s one game ban for his insulting celebration – Austria’s main goal threat will be available for the clash with Italy. It will take some effort for this Austrian side to overcome the Italians at Wembley but with players like David Alaba and Marcel Sabitzer as well as the aforementioned Arnautovic they do have players that can cause an upset.
Netherlands vs Czech Republic – Sunday 27 June – Budapest – 17.00
The Dutch have been showing signs they are returning to their former glory, but Frank de Boer’s gung-ho tactics seem to be exposing a weakened defence, without the colossal Virgil van Dijk. Good performances from Memphis Depay and the exciting Denzel Dumfries from fullback give the orange clad slide a realistic chance of progressing from this game. Captain and former Liverpool midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum is also a threat from midfield as he plays a more advanced role for his nation and will need to be watched closely by the Czechs.
One of England’s group stage opponents, the Czechs will be pleased with their tournament so far after being given very little hope of doing anything prior to a ball being kicked. The impressive performances of Patricik Schick and West Ham’s duo of Vadimir Coufal and Tomas Soucek are enough to give any side a run for their money on their day. This could be quite a high scoring game as both nations will be confident they can progress into the quarter-finals.
Belgium vs Portugal – Sunday 27 June – Seville – 20.00
This tie is one of the standout games of the round. Belgium cruised through to the knockouts winning all three of their group games and did so without a fully fit Kevin de Bruyne and Eden Hazard. Now both players have crucial minutes under their belts and with Romelu Lukaku in the form of his life right now, Belgium will be expecting to take the Portuguese all the way in this one. The return of Axel Witsel to the centre of midfield is also a vital addition to Roberto Martinez’s side but coming up against the current holders will not be easy.
Cristiano Ronaldo is still the main man for Portugal and without his goals at this year’s competition the Portuguese may have struggled. The Juventus forward has been breaking all the records this summer and most recently equalled Ali Daei’s all-time international goal record – netting his 108th and 109th international goals against France. Portugal will need the likes of Bruno Fernandes and Diogo Jota to find their form if they are to overcome Belgium though, having drawn with France and lost to Germany it won’t be any easier in this last 16 fixture.
Croatia vs Spain – Monday 28 June – Copenhagen – 17.00
Croatia are a shadow of the team that got to the World Cup final in 2018 but Luka Modric’s impressive display against Scotland showed signs there is still life in this team yet. With Ivan Perisic and Matteo Kovacic also on display for the Croatians they are definitely still a threat. While going all the way to the final seems rather unlikely for this set of players they will give as good as they get against the Spanish in the Danish capital.
Always considered one of the favourites at every major championship over the last decade, Spain have struggled so far this time out. Two rather dull looking draws in their opening two games against the Swedes and Poles had many in Spain fearing the worst. A lack of goalscoring prowess seemed to be the major concern with Alvaro Morata struggling to hit the target – let alone score. But a rampant 5-0 win over Slovakia dismissed those concerns, although, finishing runners up now means they go into the same side of the draw as France, Portugal, Belgium and Italy.
France vs Switzerland – Monday 28 June – Bucharest – 20.00
The World Champions have yet to get going in this competition, despite that, they did top a tough group featuring Portugal and Germany and are still considered favourites for the title. Blessed with a ridiculous amount of talent within their squad it is hard to say who the Swiss will have to watch out for. Kylian Mbappe has had a fairly quiet tournament so far and will no doubt kick into gear soon, whilst Karim Benzema’s international return – after years out in the cold – is finally back up and running with a brace against the Portuguese in their final group game.
Switzerland have a tough task on their hands against their European neighbours. While both countries may share a language they do not share the same depth of quality in their ranks. Xherdan Shaqiri can always produce a moment of magic, as he showed against Turkey on match day three and Yann Sommer will have to keep his fine form between the sticks going if the Swiss hope to get a result in Romania.
England vs Germany – Tuesday 29 June – London – 17.00
Well this one doesn’t need too much of an introduction does it? Gareth Southgate’s side have so far done their business quietly and pragmatically, scoring only two goals but managing to keep a clean sheet in all three of their group games – a first for the nation at a Euros. Raheem Sterling has provided both goals and the performances of Jack Grealish and Bukayo Saka impressed the nation against the Czech Republic. An underwhelming performance against Scotland almost sent the country into meltdown but the fact this German side is the weakest England have faced – possibly ever – is a sign that history may not repeat itself. Southgate will be looking for redemption after missing the crucial penalty at Euro ‘96 and Wembley would be the perfect place to get that revenge.
Joachim Low is bowing out of the German manager’s job after this tournament and defeat to England would likely leave a sour taste in the mouth of the 2014 World Cup winner. A Jekyll and Hyde group stage almost saw the Germans crash out at the hands of Hungary but a late Leon Goretzka goal in Munich spared any blushes and set up a tie with England. Germany’s use of wingbacks has looked dangerous going forward, which was evident as they ran out 4-2 winners against Portugal. Without a recognised striker and one of the poorest defences in a generation, Manuel Neuer can be expected to be busy in the German goal, as the likes of Harry Kane, Sterling, Grealish and Phil Foden look to write themselves into the history books and beat Germany on route to Euro glory.
Sweden vs Ukraine – Tuesday 29 June – Glasgow – 20.00
The last game of the round arguably has two of the outsiders left in this tournament. Sweden have looked like a tidy side who can cause teams trouble with the likes of Emile Forsberg and Alexander Isak up front and are defensively assured. Clean sheets against Spain and Slovakia were followed by two goals from Robert Lewandowski but they can be forgiven for conceding two to one the greatest number nines in world football. The draw means victory here would see the Swedes take on the winners of that England vs Germany tie.
The trouble with having best-placed third-placed teams means not always the best sides go through. Ukraine managed to scrape through, courtesy of a 2-1 win over North Macedonia and even that game didn’t go all their way. The Macedonians almost conjured up an equaliser late on and defeat to Austria in their final group game showed just how poor this side is. Captained by Manchester City’s Oleksandr Zinchencko and with West Ham’s Andriy Yarmelenko there is talent in Andriy Shevchenko’s squad but you would give them a better chance if the former AC Milan legend was leading the line in this one.
With a raft of exciting fixtures there will be plenty more talking points, goals and upsets along the way. Now time for a couple days of rest before the action gets back under way on Saturday evening.