Euro 2020: Day 21
The action will get underway on Saturday in Azerbaijan, as the Olympic Stadium in Baku will see the Czech Republic take on Denmark for a place in the semi-finals of Euro 2020. The Czech Republic came out of a group with both England and Croatia, finishing 3rd behind the two but ahead of Scotland, earning another tough tie as they faced the Netherlands, who had won all 3 of their group games, in Baku.
However, in a tense affair a red card for Mathias De Ligt after a deliberate handball changed the course of the game, and the Czech Republic were quick to make their numerical advantage count, Tomáš Holeš breaking the deadlock 13 minutes after the dismissal, before the tie was put to bed by Patrick Schick, enjoying a fantastic tournament so far as he scored his fourth goal of the competition to secure the 2-0 victory.
Denmark, after an emotionally charged and challenging start, which doesn’t need covering again, recovered well to progress in 2nd spot in Group B before blowing away Wales in their round of 16 game, with a 4-0 victory in Amsterdam, Wales also suffering a red card although it came too late to influence the result of the game. Kasper Dolberg, brought in for the game, was the difference maker scoring twice, the second after a poor defensive mix-up, before Joakim Mæhle and Martin Braithwaite added late goals to underline their superiority.
I’d expect Denmark to come into this one as heavy favourites, despite the fact this tournament has already shown us anything can happen, but I expect them to be too strong for the Czech Republic on the day, particularly with the attacking threat they possess, with a victory by a goal or two to send them through to a semi-final at Wembley next week.
England face their first game away from Wembley as they travel to Rome to take on Ukraine, looking for a victory that would ironically take them back to London for a semi-final tie should they prove successful. A historic 2-0 win over Germany in the last 16, with two late goals seeing one of the host nations finally overcome their arch nemesis, will give them renewed hope that they could follow up their World Cup semi-final from 3 years ago with something even more impressive. While the travel will likely prove a challenge they have not had to deal with yet, it will still favour them over their opponents so cannot be seen as a hinderance.
Ukraine have already clocked up the air miles in the Group stages before their extra time victory over Sweden to progress. They also face the journey from the UK to Italy after that late late victory at Hampden Park, courtesy of a last minute goal after Sweden had gone down to 10 men. During the game, Ukraine used all 6 subs, suffered several injuries and also looked dead on their feet in the closing stages, which coupled with the travel across Europe they now face will only hinder their preparation for the biggest game in their relatively new history.
The match will also pitch Oleksandr Zinchenko, man of the match in the victory over Sweden, against club colleagues John Stones, Kyle Walker, Raheem Sterling and Phil Foden, as all look to put the disappointment of the Champions’ League loss behind them to earn success for their country. Manager Andriy Shevchenko is also no stranger to English football, having spent 3 largely unsuccessful years at Chelsea during his illustrious career, much of his success coming in Italy where this game will take place. Ukraine showed they are willing to roll up their sleeves and work hard for each other, something that has served England well to this point, but I think the quality will show on the night and, dare I say it, England will ease into the semi-final back home at Wembley.Share this: