The round of 16 rolls on with Croatia, Spain, France and Switzerland gunning for the quarter-finals.
The UEFA EURO 2020 round of 16 is at the halfway point, with two more quarter-final places up for grabs for the winners of Croatia versus Spain and France against Switzerland.
We preview Monday’s games in Copenhagen and Bucharest.
Both teams struggled for goals in the group stage before big performances on Matchday 3 secured their passage to the knockout stage, and each will now be hoping for more of the same at Parken Stadium in Copenhagen.
Luka Modrić’s brilliant outside-of-the-boot curler was the pick of the bunch in a 3-1 success over Scotland as Croatia ended Group D as runners-up. The venerable midfielder said the Vatreni “are a danger to everyone” at their best and, after heading home at this stage at EURO 2016, will be eager to go a step further now. The absence of Ivan Perišić will not help their cause.
A tough task against Spain, of course, especially as La Roja equalled the final tournament record margin of victory with a 5-0 win against Slovakia to finish second in Group E. “I warned everyone that when the cork was out of the bottle, the champagne would flow,” said coach Luis Enrique afterwards. Will the 2008 and 2012 European champions be clinking glasses at full time in Copenhagen? All hail King Modrić!
Key stat: Spain have won four of the teams’ eight meetings overall, but Croatia have had the upper hand in two of the last three, including a 2-1 victory in the group stage at EURO 2016.
Unlike Spain, France are yet to truly fizz at EURO 2020, even if they did finish ahead of Germany, Portugal and Hungary in arguably the toughest group.
The 2018 World Cup winners opened with victory against Germany but drew their two subsequent games, scoring just four times overall. Yet with Kylian Mbappé, Antoine Griezmann and Karim Benzema leading the line, there is the sense that plenty more goals will come sooner rather than later.
Not that Switzerland will be pushovers. After drawing with Wales and losing to Italy, the Nati showed what they are capable of in an impressive 3-1 triumph against Turkey to progress from Group A. Xherdan Shaqiri was inspirational with two goals in that game and will be key to Switzerland’s chances of reaching the last eight.
The Swiss are yet to make it beyond the round of 16 at a EURO; they lost out to Poland on penalties at this stage at EURO 2016. “It is a huge night for us, for all of Switzerland,” said captain Granit Xhaka, who is hoping bitter experience can pay off. “But we can only make history if we give 120%.”
Key stat: France have never lost a competitive match against Switzerland, winning two and drawing four, with their most recent meeting a goalless stalemate in the group stage at EURO 2016.