By Gerald Lutchman
AS I predicted, Spain proved the team to advance but it was not easy. Switzerland played hard and almost the perfect game with ten men to survive extra time and gain a penalty shootout.
Spain 1 vs Switzerland 1
Penalties: Spain 3 vs Switzerland 1
Unfortunately for them, they could not repeat their form in the shootout victory over France, where every shot was scored.
Switzerland would have fancied their chances because Spain were horrible leading up to this game. They failed and now are on their way home. Switzerland could only score one of the five shots.
Spain dominated the game with 73% possession, 28 shots at goal with ten on target but could not win in normal or extra time. This is the same team that had scored ten goals in their two previous matches. Switzerland had only eight shots at goal and two on target. The Swiss stuck to their game plan and it worked, especially after Remo Freuler was ejected in the 77th minute.
Earlier Spain took the lead in a fortunate manner with an own goal deflection by Denis Zakaira in the eighth minute. Spain tried but could not get another. The game proceeded to a penalty shootout.
Belgium 1 vs Italy 2
As I predicted Italy had the advantage and this game would not reach penalties. This super matchup between the world’s number one team and the best playing team in the tournament did not disappoint. It was marvellous.
This has to be the best European championship ever!
This was a fast paced, goal-to-goal action drama. Oh, how many times I jumped out of my seat in excitement. What a game!
Italy had 14 shots at goal with three on target and Belgium had ten shots at goal with four on target. The possession was shared with Italy having 54%.
Italy took the lead in the 31st minute through Nicolo Barilla and Lorenzo Insigne scored a wonder goal in the 44th minute. It was a stupendous goal – almost magical. Romelu Lukaku breathed life into the game at the 45 + 2nd minute with a penalty.
The second half started evenly but Italy held on strong and maintained their one-goal lead. There is no side better at defending a one-goal lead than the Italians.
Belgium’s golden generation has not earned the silverware and it is hardly likely they will have such a tremendous run in world football again in the near future.
Unfortunately on the day they met a brilliant Italian side who are now firm favourites to lift the cup.
Czech Republic vs Denmark
03/07/21 12 noon
Baku Olympic Stadium
I just do not know who to pick in this game. These are the two darlings of the competition. This is their third meeting in the European Championships and the Czechs have won two in the past.
Advantage Czechs – but I am going with Denmark, they deserve to progress.
England vs Ukraine
England are the firm favourites and have lost just once to Ukraine in their last seven meetings. The last three times England were in the quarterfinals it has gone to penalties. If it reaches that point, I will give the edge to Ukraine.
Advantage England – but if it reaches to penalties I fear England will not make it.