As we head into the final week of action in Euro 2020, just four teams remain in the tournament all in with a chance of lifting the trophy on July the 11th. With many of the big name sides exiting at the round-of-16, the quarter-finals had seen some surprise inclusions.
The majority of Chelsea players representing their country at the Euros were still very much involved in the competition. However, the last-16 had seen a few players exit the tournament and head back home. Wales and Ethan Ampadu had been knocked out by Denmark with Blues defender Andreas Christensen in the side. As well as this, Mateo Kovacic’s Croatia were out whilst World Champions France made a surprise exit at the hands of Switzerland. N’Golo Kante, Olivier Giroud and Kurt Zouma were the Chelsea players involved in that French squad.
Finally, Germany were the other nation to have players in the Champions League winning squad that were knocked out. The Germans were defeated 2-0 by old foes England which involved Kai Havertz, Timo Werner and Antonio Rudiger in the starting eleven of that game. However, there was still a total of eight Chelsea players left at Euro 2020. How did they all fare in the quarter-finals?
Switzerland vs Spain: Azpilicueta and Spain progress to the final four after penalty shootout victory
Spain were the first side to book their place in the semi-finals on Friday evening by beating Switzerland in St Petersburg. An own goal from Denis Zakaria had put Luis Enrique’s men in front after just eight minutes. However, in the second half, Switzerland responded and equalised through Liverpool’s Xherdan Shaqiri. The Swiss were reduced to ten men not long later though as Remo Freuler was shown a controversial red card as the match went to extra time. Despite the man advantage, Spain were unable to capitalise meaning the match went to a penalty shootout.
Having beaten France in the previous round on penalties, Switzerland looked to be the favourites due to Spain’s poor recent record from the spot. Sergio Busquets missed Spain first spot kick whilst Mario Gavranovic scored the first for the Swiss. Things soon started to go the way of the Spanish though as Dani Olmo scored before Newcastle’s Fabian Schar missed for Switzerland. Although Rodri saw his penalty saved by Yann Sommer, Switzerland missed their next two penalties to give Spain the opportunity to go through. Gerard Moreno netted Spain’s fourth penalty before Mikel Oyarzabel scored the winning spot kick to send them through.
Cesar Azpilicueta started his third consecutive match and played the full 120 minutes as his side made it through. Having not played in Spain’s two opening group games, Luis Enrique put faith in the Chelsea skipper by starting him against Slovakia. Without Azpilicueta, Spain had drawn against Sweden and Poland in what was two disappointing performances. However, when he was in the starting eleven to play Slovakia, the three time Euros winners picked up a 5-0 victory to progress in 2nd place. Coincidence? I think not. Azpilicueta again started against Croatia where he found the back of the net to score his first senior international goal.
Chelsea’s Champions League winning captain should no doubt start Tuesday’s match at Wembley having excelled in Spain’s backline this tournament. The 31-year-old has been key to the Blues’ success this season, could he help guide Spain to Euro 2020 glory?
Belgium vs Italy: Jorginho dominates midfield as Italy defeat Belgium in Munich
Later that evening, Italy were the second nation to make it through to the semi-final, overcoming Belgium 2-1 in Munich. Roberto Mancini’s side started the game the better side and scored through Leonardo Bonucci, only for VAR to rule it out for offside. Nonetheless, Italy made the breakthrough on 31 minutes as Nicolo Barella fired home. It got even better for them as Lorenzo Insigne curled home a wonder strike past former Chelsea ‘keeper Thibaut Courtois. Italy were 2-0 up before the break but in first half stoppage time, Belgium were awarded a penalty. Ex-Blues striker Romelu Lukaku stepped up and scored his fourth goal of the tournament.
Belgium were very much back into the tie going into the second half. Roberto Martinez’s men had a number of chances to get level but were unable to score. In the end, Italy held out in Munich to make it through to the semis where they will meet Spain at Wembley. Italy and Mancini continue their brilliant run in the Euros, scoring 11 goals and conceding just twice and are favourites to make it to the final.
Jorginho put in a dazzling display in the midfield for Italy alongside Marco Verratti and Barella. The Chelsea man had a 99% passing accuracy, making 74 successful passes out of 75 along with 6 ball recoveries. He’s continued to play every match so far, playing nearly every minute. Ever since Thomas Tuchel’s appointment, Jorginho has been a key asset to Chelsea, playing alongside Mateo Kovacic and N’Golo Kante. If Italy were to go on and win the Euros, he would no doubt be a worthy winner. Blues defender Emerson also made a rare appearance against Belgium, coming on as a substitute in the 80th minute. He had replaced Leonardo Spinazzola, who ruptured his achilles and will now miss the rest of the tournament. His injury means that Emerson is now expected to start on Tuesday against Spain.
Meanwhile, Belgium’s exit from Euro 2020 will see Michy Batshuayi return back for pre-season with Chelsea. The striker only played once against Finland with Lukaku the man who mainly started up front. As for Italy though, Jorginho and Emerson will both be hopeful of victory on Tuesday.
Czech Republic vs Denmark: Christensen and the Danes win in Baku as sensational run go on
With Italy and Spain making it through to the semi-finals the day before, Denmark were the third team to qualify for the final four with a win over the Czech Republic. It took the Danes just five minutes to make the breakthrough as Jens Stryger Larsen’s corner was headed home by Thomas Delaney. The Borussia Dortmund man was unmarked as he capitalised on poor defending from the Czech’s. Later on in the first half, Denmark doubled their advantage in Baku after Joakim Maehle’s brilliant cross was poked home by Kasper Dolberg. It had proven to be a brilliant first 45 for Kasper Hjulmand’s side as they looked on course to make the semi-finals.
However, four minutes into the second half, Czech Republic pulled a goal back. West Ham full back Vladimir Coufal’s cross was slotted home by Patrick Shick for his fifth goal of the Euros. An interesting second half was on the cards. Despite pressure from the Czech’s, Denmark held on for the win to book their place at Wembley. Following Christian Eriksen’s cardiac arrest in Denmark’s opening match against Finland, the Danes have had a remarkable run to the final four and will no doubt be hopeful of going on to win the whole thing. Regardless of the Eriksen situation, Denmark have a brilliant squad with some top quality players across the pitch.
According to @EURO2020 Andreas Christensen has clocked the joint-seventh highest top speed of any player at the tournament so far: 33.3 km/h— Squawka Football (@Squawka) July 4, 2021
◉ Raheem Sterling (33.1)
◉ Kyle Walker (32.8)
◉ Raphaël Varane (32.6)
◉ Kylian Mbappé (32.2)#DEN pic.twitter.com/ITqGUknwMt
In the Czech Republic match, Andreas Christensen put in another solid display in defence beside Simon Kjaer and Jannik Vestergaard. The Chelsea man played 81 minutes in Baku before being replaced by Joakim Andersen. After losing their opening two matches in the group, Denmark needed to beat Russia in the final match to have any chance of reaching the knockout stages. After taking a 2-0 lead, the Russians pulled a goal back from the penalty spot. However, Christensen restored the Danes two goal advantage with a first strike from outside the area. Undoubtedly one of the goals of the tournament. It finished 4-1 in the end and after Belgium’s win over Finland, they went through but only just. This has shown how far Denmark have come since that incident.
Christensen has already played a key part in Demark’s campaign and will be hoping to contribute more in Wednesday’s semi-final. He is starting to realise his full potential and will be a brilliant defender in years to come. The Danes have already won this competition before in 1992, can they win it for a second time?
Ukraine vs England: The Three Lions continue Euros journey after memorable night in Rome
England completed the semi-final line-up on Saturday night with a comprehensive win over Ukraine in Rome. Having reached the semi-finals at the 2018 World Cup, the Three Lions were close to repeating the feat at Euro 2020. It took just four minutes for England to break the deadlock as Raheem Sterling played through Harry Kane, who found the back of the net. That goal was Kane’s second of the tournament. England went in at half-time 1-0 in front and very much in control. Just a minute after the restart, it was 2-0 as Luke Shaw’s free kick was headed home by Harry Maguire for his first goal of Euro 2020.
It soon got even better for Gareth Southgate’s side as a few minutes later it was 3-0. Luke Shaw delivered the ball into the middle as Kane jumped the highest to head home past Heorhii Bushchan. On 63 minutes, the Three Lions added a fourth after Jordan Henderson headed in from Mason Mount’s corner for his first senior goal. England were in dreamland in Rome. Southgate’s men were through to the semi-finals where they will face Denmark on Wednesday. The Three Lions have had an excellent tournament so far and are yet to concede a goal from their five matches.
Mount was recalled to the starting eleven for the first time since the Scotland match having been isolating. Nonetheless, Mount played his part for England by providing an assist for the fourth goal and played the full 90 minutes. Meanwhile, Ben Chilwell was named on the bench by Southgate but didn’t make an appearance. He is yet to play a single minute this tournament. As for Reece James, he wasn’t included on the bench but could be in contention for a starting place against Denmark. England supporters dreams may soon become a reality by winning Euro 2020. Denmark and then either Italy or Spain stand in the way for Southgate’s men. They no doubt have the advantage due to both semi-finals and final taking place at Wembley.
Mount, James and Chilwell have contributed for Chelsea this season but the question is can they do it for England? Winning the Euros is very much a possibility for the Three Lions, who are now favourites for the tournament. Is football finally coming home?
When in Rome… pic.twitter.com/Yg6dZBYNYp— Mason Mount (@masonmount_10) July 3, 2021
With the remaining four nations containing at least one Chelsea player, there will be a guaranteed Euro 2020 winner from the European champions. Will it be Spain’s Azpilicueta, Jorginho and Emerson of Italy, Denmark’s Christensen or the Three Lions in Mount, James and Chilwell? We shall find out in due course!
Written and Edited by Matt North (@MattNorth_)
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