UEFA EURO 2020 daily preview: What to look out for on Wednesday
Wednesday, 23 June 2021
The group stage ends with Spain, Germany and Portugal among the teams still looking to secure their place in the round of 16.
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The UEFA EURO 2020 group stage ends on Wednesday, with Groups E and F both coming to a conclusion with plenty still in the balance.
We preview the action as Sweden play Poland and Slovakia face Spain, before Germany meet Hungary and Portugal take on France.
18:00: Slovakia vs Spain (Group E, Seville)
Slovakia may be outsiders, but that is a position in which they so often thrive. Cast your mind back to their 3-2 win against Italy at the 2010 FIFA World Cup, or their 0-0 draw with England at UEFA EURO 2016. Or even their 2-1 defeat of Spain in October 2014. To pull off something similar against La Roja in Seville would perhaps go down as the best of the lot, with a point enough to go through.
This is the sort of occasion that Spain, for a long time, gobbled up. They thrived on the pressure. In recent tournaments, however, they have often slipped when the stakes have been so high. A draw is unlikely to be on their minds considering their pre-tournament ambitions, and would not be enough anyway if Poland beat Sweden. They will be hoping to get the job done, press the reset button and go again in the knockouts.
Key stat: Spain have reached every EURO since 1996 and last missed out on the knockout stages back in 2004. Slovakia advanced to the last 16 at EURO 2016, their first tournament as an independent nation.
18:00: Sweden vs Poland (Group E, Saint Petersburg)
History is against Poland for this one. Sweden have won each of the sides' last five meetings, the last four by at least two-goal margins, but hope springs eternal – especially after Poland earned a point against a strong Spain side., which means victory on Wednesday will ensure a round of 16 berth. As Wojciech Szczęsny explained to EURO2020.com, "There is belief within the team that we can get through."
Confidence is not exactly lacking among the Swedish squad either, and while Poland may have Robert Lewandowski, the Group E leaders have Alexander 'Kylian' Isak (as billed by his team-mates). Monday's results confirmed the Blågult's spot in the last 16, but they could still finish anywhere from first to third so it's all to play for.
Key stat: Sweden are unbeaten in their last seven games against Poland (W6 D1), scoring 18 goals in that sequence and conceding only three. The Swedes have won 14 of the 26 meetings between the teams overall (D4 L8).
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21:00: Germany vs Hungary (Group F, Munich)
The absence of Thomas Müller with a knee problem is a blow, but Leon Goretzka is back up to full fitness and there are several other attacking players eager for the chance to impress. Germany have kept only three clean sheets in their last 16 matches and although they will continue to take risks, being careful not to be caught on the counterattack is likely to be high on the agenda with a draw ensuring progress.
Hungary will be without the partisan crowd that helped spur them on to their draw with world champions France last time out, but they can play without pressure in Munich for the win they need. And the Magyarok have upset the apple cart against stellar opposition in the final group game before – just ask Portugal, their opponents in perhaps the game of EURO 2016.
Key stat: These teams have never previously met at a EURO final tournament, and this is also their first competitive meeting since the 1954 World Cup final.
21:00: Portugal vs France (Group F, Budapest)
Brace for a repeat of the EURO 2016 final. There are various permutations at play here, but make no mistake: Portugal – the holders, let us not forget – want to prove something following that 4-2 defeat by Germany. One man with nothing left to prove is Cristiano Ronaldo, though the 36-year-old has never before scored against France. He is now just two goals shy of Ali Daei's 109-goal all-time international record, so it would be some time to end that drought.
Les Bleus are through, but don't expect them to take their foot off the gas. Jules Koundé, Lucas Hernández and Corentin Tolisso could all come into Didier Deschamps' team as they seek to regain any momentum lost following their 1-1 draw with Hungary.
Key stat: France are unbeaten in 12 of their last 13 encounters with Portugal; the only blot on that record is their defeat in the EURO 2016 final.