The Euro 2020 quarterfinals have a lot to live up to, excitement-wise, after this year’s unforgettable round of 16.
While upsets, most notably France’s shocking loss to Switzerland, played a big role in making the round of 16 so memorable, most of the perceived contenders are still alive. That should make for a compelling quarterfinal round.
The schedule is below. All times listed are Eastern:
- Friday: Switzerland-Spain, noon; Belgium-Italy, 3 p.m.
- Saturday: Czech Republic-Denmark, noon; Ukraine-England, 3 p.m.
The odds to advance, courtesy of DraftKings SportsBook, are listed in parentheses.
1. Belgium (+120) vs. Italy (-155)
We’ve got a no-brainer at No. 1 on this list. Even if Belgium is missing Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard (both players are questionable), Roberto Martinez’s team has a great chance to pull the slight upset on the Italians, who nearly bowed out in the round of 16 against Austria. Romelu Lukaku and Thorgan Hazard will be that much more potent if they’re accompanied by De Bruyne and the elder Hazard, but those two alone provide quite a bit of firepower.
Besides the questions about the health of De Bruyne and Hazard, the biggest unknown here, for me, is how Belgium’s back line of 32-year-old Toby Alderweireld, Thomas Vermaelen (35) and Jan Vertonghen (34) will hold up against Ciro Immobile and Italy’s front line.
Part of me thinks that if that veteran trio can shut out Cristiano Ronaldo and Co. (which is exactly what they did last Sunday), we shouldn’t question them against Italy. But another shutout for the Belgians seems unlikely. I like the Over 2.5 (+143).
2. Switzerland (+230) vs. Spain (-305)
Spain might not be the favorite to raise the trophy, but they might be the most unpredictable – and therefore entertaining – squad left. Against Croatia, Spain keeper Unai Simon started the game with an all-time gaffe that put his team down 1-0 … then (naturally) made some huge saves the rest of the way as his team pulled out an insane 5-3 win over Luka Modric and Co.
I don’t think Switzerland will pull another big upset in this one, but I didn’t think they had a shot against France – either before the game or when they went down 3-1 in the 75th minute – and we saw how that worked out. If nothing else, Switzerland should have your attention going forward after that incredible late comeback, and perfection on PKs, against France.
3. Ukraine (+400) vs. England (-590)
On paper, England has so many stars that they should top lists like these. But they haven’t been playing the flashiest soccer, and while I don’t blame Southgate – in fact, I think he’s on to something – that doesn’t make it any more fun to watch
Expect England to once again concede nothing, and capitalize on whatever looks they do create to reach the semifinals. A 1-0 win for England would not come as a surprise considering England’s conservative approach. That makes Under 1.5 (+240) tempting, and Under 2.5 (-129) looks like an even safer bet.
4. Czech Republic (+140) vs. Denmark (-182)
Storyline-wise, we couldn’t ask for much more here. The winner of this will likely be as big of an underdog as you’ll see in a Euro 2020 semifinal.
The Czech Republic has to have a huge chip on its shoulder at this point, as it remains a clear underdog despite last Sunday’s 2-0 win over the Netherlands. That upset, which got overshadowed a day later by Spain-Croatia and France-Switzerland, should have made this team a favorite for a lot of neutrals.
But against a Denmark team looking to go from the trauma of Christian Eriksen’s scare during the opening weekend to the semifinals, the Czech Republic will once again have to embrace the “anonymous underdog” role.