UEFA EURO 2020: RO16 BREAKTHROUGH FOR VICTOR? OR BACKLASH FOR COLOSSAL?

The knockout rounds have always been a stage where the perceived winner’s hopes could come crashing down or could become a stage for the opposition’s thrashing. No matter what happens it always has been a treat for fans to watch. A goal-fest or a shocking last-minute winner is always breath-taking and an enjoyable moment for the people who love football with their soul.

So as it was the knockout rounds of UEFA Euro2020 one team has to go back home with a heavy heart of losing and with the courage to come back stronger to land the trophy in their cabinet the next time. On the other hand, the opposing team will qualify to the next round with their dreams of winning the trophy intact and with a spirit to dominate the upcoming game.

Similarly, EURO2020 was no short of a drama fest. Being unpredictable is one of the reasons why millions of people around the world love this game. So keeping this astonishing context in mind, we as football fans were not disappointed.

  1. Wales VS Denmark

In the first match of the UEFA Euro2020 RO16, before the match, there were no favourites to win as they both had performed equally well and had an equal chance of winning. No one expected more than 2 goals in a matchup like this but until the last whistle is blown, the match isn’t over.

The match turned out to be a 4 goal thriller as it was Denmark who scored all of them leading to a 4-0 win. Denmark completely dominated the match with their attack as well as defence.

Denmark’s Casper Dolberg got the ball rolling by scoring 2 goals one of which was a beautiful curler winding up into the side netting.

Another goal was scored by Joakim Maihle in the 88th minute thus putting the game to bed. Just when the Welsh thought that they were done with the match, Martin Braithwaite scored another in 90+4 minutes to extend the lead to 4 goals, therefore, humiliating Wales till the last minute.

  • Italy VS Austria

Italy has not conceded a single goal throughout the group stages of Euro 2020; they have been commendable in attack as well as defence. Austria did do well in the group stages too earning them a place in the RO16. Alas! Austria’s journey came to a close in this match.

Italy won the match while creating a record 31 matches unbeaten run but it surely wasn’t an easy win for them. The match went onto extra time as the initial 90 minutes were goalless and the tired legs of players were tested in the extra time where Italy emerged victorious with the help of sheer determination and tactics of Roberto Mancini. In the first 90 minutes, Austria did not let it down easily for Italy as they were adamant to win and were constantly pressuring Italy through speedy counters as well as the concentrated press. Both the teams were brilliant on as well as off the ball. Though in the end there could only be one winner.    

They won the match by a 2-1 margin Matteo Pessina (105th minute) and Federico Chiesa (95th minute) scored 2 goals which gave The Azzurri their win.

Italy’s streak of 1,168 minutes of an impenetrable defence came to an end in this match of UEFA Euro2020 as Austria’s Sasa Kalajdezic scored in the 114th minute of the game giving Austria a ray of hope for an equaliser but the Italians were not going to concede again at any cost.

  • Netherlands VS Czech Republic

This is match was a perfect example of a football match being a 2 sided coin, therefore any of the teams on the pitch can win it no matter how strong or weak a team is. On the team sheet, Netherlands is a star-studded team ranking among the top 10 teams in the world.

They were the clear favourites to win the match in the UEFA Euro2020 but the only silver lining in this match was that Czech Republic had performed well in the group stage which helped them book a spot in the RO16.

Czechia lived up to their reputation and are now being considered as the underdogs of this tournament by defeating a 10 men Netherland team. The Dutch started crumbling apart after that red card to De Ligt in the 55th minute.

They showed control and composure with outbursts of attack in the first half but they seemed disjointed as well as panicked in the second half which eventually led them to concede 2 goals.

1st goal came in the 68th minute by Tomas Holes and the second by none other than Patrik Schick in the 80th minute which was the final nail in the coffin of the Dutch’s journey in the Euro2020.

The fans were utterly disappointed by Netherland as they expected this team to win. The happiness of the Czech Republic fans on the other had no bounds as they had qualified for the quarter-finals for the first time since 2012 and now have higher hopes from their country.

  • Belgium VS Portugal

The matchup between two of the best teams of the UEFA Euro2020 is nerve breaking for both the teams as both of them have an equal chance at winning the match. Belgium is ranked the number 1 team in the world right now and Portugal is one of the top 5 teams with star players all around the pitch including none other than Cristiano Ronaldo.

They both played well but in the end, there was only one winner and that was Belgium. They leapt over Portugal to qualify for the quarter-finals with Thorgan Hazard’s goal in the 42nd minute from outside the box as the match ended 1-0 in favour of the Belgians.

The shot was unstoppable as the ball curled outside at the last second taking it away from the Portuguese shot-stopper Rui Patricio and into the side netting. Belgium had been consistent with their performance defensively as well as offensively. They have delivered whenever it was required and that’s why they are ranked so highly among the analysts as well as journalists.

The Portuguese on the other hand had 23 shots in the match and still couldn’t find the net even once despite having marksmen like Cristiano Ronaldo, Bernado Silva, Bruno Fernandes and many more who outperformed in their clubs the whole 2020-21 season.

The defending champions have been disqualified and will be giving up the crown. Cristiano Ronaldo showed his remorse for the loss in a rather unconventional and disrespectful way.      

  • Croatia VS Spain

The people who say that nothing is as thrilling as a roller coaster surely have never watched football. If one needs a match to substantiate the above statement then this match would be the perfect example.

The match started with Croatia taking the lead with an own goal in the 20th minute with Unai Simon on the end of it. Spaniards later equalized in the 38th minute with Pablo Sarabia.

In the second half, Luis Enrique’s side burst into action as they scored two goals in the 57th minute (Cesar Azpilicueta) and 77th minute (Ferran Torres). These goals made the players, as well as the footballing world, believe that Spain would easily see out the remaining quarter of an hour. Till the 84th minute, they were absorbing the attacking pressure of the Croatians. At the 85th minute, they finally broke down as they conceded 2 goals in 7 minutes. Croatia’s Mislav Orsic was involved in both of those goals by scoring in one and assisting the other. Mario Palisic equalized in 90+2 minutes to give Croatia a fighting chance in the extra time.

The Spaniard’s qualification dreams shattered at that point as the exhausted players were going to be tested through 30 minutes of extra time. They had to pick themselves up and give it their all.

Luis Enrique’s tactics, pep talks combined with the resilience of players led the “La Furia Roja” to score a couple more goals which saw them through the match.

 Morata redeemed himself for a penalty miss in the last match with a banger on the 100th minute of the match followed by a goal in the 103rd minute courtesy of Mikel Oyarzabal.

 Croatians tried to retaliate with their press but Unai Simon held them at bay with a couple of fabulous saves that kept the Spaniards in the game.

The match ended with a score of 5-3 in favour of Spain. The match was filled with attacks, saves and last-minute goals. If this isn’t a roller coaster equivalent then I don’t know what is. This was the best match in the Euro2020 RO16 making it impossible to take our eyes away from the screens.

But was it the most excitement the fans were about to receive on the day?   

  • France VS Switzerland

Spain VS Croatia wasn’t going to be the only match of UEFA Euro2020 that would leave the fans in wonderment and astonishment. The fans had barely recovered from the roller coaster of Spain VS Croatia but they had no idea that the World cup winners were about to crash out of the tournament and that too in such a spectacular manner.

Yes, the World Cup winners, The tournament favourites, The squad with a value of 1.08 Billion Euros was knocked out by Switzerland, a squad worth 288.5 Million Euros.

Haris Seferovic was the hero who rescued Switzerland with 2 mind-boggling headers in the 15th and 81st minute which gave Switzerland the boost to push forward.

Between this time frame, France fought back by scoring three goals in the second half. Karim Benzema, Paul Pogba, Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe all had a hand in scoring these goals. They were a show of pure class and fluidity. Karim Benzema scored 2 goals in quick succession at the 57th and 59th minute to give the equalizer and the lead respectively to the French in this round of UEFA Euro2020.

Paul Pogba gave the world a glimpse of the famous “POGBOOOOMMM” moment by scoring a world-class goal from outside the 18-yard box right into the top corner.

That moment should have been the final nail in the journey of Switzerland’s UEFA Euro2020. But they didn’t let go as they kept on pressuring and attacking with everything they had till the last moment which finally led them to score 2 more goals in the 81st and 90th minute, giving them a breather and a chance to fight back in the extra time. Mario Gavranovic scored the equaliser assisted by Granit Xhaka who may not have scored but was surely one of the reasons for Switzerland’s win.

Kingsley Coman almost found the net in 90+4 minutes but the shot found the crossbar and the Swiss had a sigh of relief.

The game went onto extra time with both teams pushing for a goal. Both the teams made a few clear cut chances but they weren’t able to capitalise on them.

The match went onto the penalties where Switzerland scored every penalty while the French missed the last penalty. Kylian Mbappe was the penalty taker who missed it which cost his team a spot in the quarter-finals of UEFA Euro2020.

Didier Deschamps was unable to find a way around the Swiss and just like that The World Champions had to head home with utter disbelief.

  • England VS Germany

The match started with the thought in mind that Germany will be able to ease past England considering how disjointed “The three lions” were in their previous games. England barely got through to the UEFA Euro RO16. Considering the attacking prowess of players in the team, the football world expected way more goals from the forwards. Instead of the forwards, the defenders were more up to the task during the group stage. Players like Luke Shaw, Kyle Walker, John Stones and Harry Maguire were pillars in the backline as they defended with everything they had.

The only player in the attack who scored goals and grabbed those 3 points was Raheem Sterling. He was the least expected player who would outperform the rest of the attacking lineup.

With players like Harry Kane, Jadon Sancho, Marcus Rashford, Dominic-Calvert Lewin and Phil Phoden everyone had high hopes to see more goals in the group stages of UEFA EURO group stages.

Only the players are not to be blamed as the tactics applied by the manager play a vital role in holding the team together and let me tell you Gareth Southgate is no Pep Guardiola when it comes to tactics.

With a team like this in hand, a win must come easy.

The general prediction for this match was that Germany had higher chances to win considering their tactics and the technical analysis of Joachim low but the result was quite the opposite

In fact, the match against Germany ended with a win by a margin of 2-0 as “The Three Lions” went through to the quarter-finals.

The first 75 minutes did not show much determination from either side with England just launching long balls forward with almost minimal support from midfield. At the 69th minute, Jack Grealish was introduced. His introduction bought life into the midfield and he started working right off after coming onto the field. Grealish’s work rate got them the goal in the 75th minute by a cut back from Luke Shaw and the final finishing touch of Raheem Sterling.

Germany went on to pressurize and had to push forward for a goal which left them vulnerable at the back. The super-sub Jack Grealish again with collaboration between him and Luke Shaw produced another goal-scoring chance which was finished by Harry Kane this time in the 86th minute finally putting the game to bed. Jack Grealish and Luke Shaw became the epitome of creation for England’s UEFA Euro RO16 while Harry Maguire held the defences at the backline.

The individual qualities of players helped England to qualify for the next round. A poor selection of starting 11 and lack of a tactful team for 3/4th of the match does say a lot about Gareth Southgate. A similar entourage won’t work every time if England wants the trophy to “come home”.

Will the English fans be able to finally celebrate their notion of “Football’s coming home”? Or will it just be another stalemate for them.   

  • Sweden VS Ukraine

The love for thrills and last-minute goals cannot be overstated. A last-minute goal to see your club or country win a match is a different feeling. That state of happiness cannot be expressed enough. This match felled right under the bracket of last-minute thrill.

The match started with Ukraine scoring in the 27th minute as Manchester city’s Olexandr Zinchenko scored the opener with an assist from Andriy Yarmolenko. Sweden retaliated by equalising in the 43rd minute with an Emil Forsberg goal and an assist by the Real Sociedad youngster starlet Alexander Isak.

Both teams fought till the 90th minute to grab the upper hand but couldn’t succeed to overthrow the other team in regulation time. So the match went on extra time.

At the 99th minute, Sweden’s Marcus Danielsson was shown a red card for a career-ending tackle on Artem Besedin. Danielsson went sliding through with a tackle right on Besedin’s shin which could have caused a serious injury to him. The ref initially shows a yellow card but after a consultation with VAR and a long hard look into the monitor, the referee decides to take the player off the field.

A 10 men Sweden with tired legs had to hold down the fort to have a chance at qualifying the round of 16 of UEFA Euro 2020. They held onto it well until Artem Dovbyk scored in the injury time of extra time with an assist from the young budding Ukrainian Olexandr Zinchenko. Dovbyk scored the goal in the very last minute eliminating Sweden thus leaving no time for Swedes to retaliate. The Ukrainian fans went crazy after the goal at Glasgow.

The stage for the UEFA Euro2020 quarter-finals is set

  1. Switzerland VS Spain
  2. Belgium VS Italy
  3. Czech Republic VS Denmark
  4. Ukraine VS England

The fans are filled with excitement as well as anxiety as they want to see their team lift the trophy and wear the crown of European Champions. We won’t have to wait for too long to see that moment as the matches are coming up fast and soon only 2 teams will be left to play for the trophy.

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