UEFA EURO 2020 daily preview: What to look out for on Friday
Friday, July 2, 2021
The quarter-finals kick off with Switzerland facing Spain and Belgium taking on Italy.
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The UEFA EURO 2020 quarter-finals begin on Friday as Switzerland look for another upset against Spain while Belgium and Italy both put long winning runs on the line.
We preview Friday's games in St Petersburg and Munich, with the two victors due to meet at Wembley next Tuesday.
18:00 CET: Switzerland vs Spain (Saint Petersburg)
The winners of Monday's two epic round of 16 ties raise the curtain on the last-eight drama, with history clearly favouring Spain. These nations have met 22 times and Switzerland have won just once – a group fixture at the 2010 FIFA World Cup, where Spain of course went on to triumph in the final.
But Monday's action taught everyone to take nothing for granted, as Spain discovered when leading Croatia 3-1 with five minutes to go, only to have to play extra time; Switzerland made a similar comeback against France before winning on penalties, their first triumph in a major tournament knockout match since the 1938 World Cup, before the inaugural EURO had even been played. Switzerland will certainly not want a repeat of their last World Cup knockout game: a 1-0 round of 16 loss to Sweden at this stadium in St Petersburg in 2018.
Key stat: Yann Sommer saved two penalties (both from Sergio Ramos) the last time these countries faced off, in the UEFA Nations League in Basel on 14 November 2020, though Gerard Moreno's 89th-minute equaliser earned Spain a 1-1 draw.
21:00 CET: Belgium vs Italy (Munich)
Not all of the quarter-final line-up has worked out as predicted but plenty would have pencilled in this tie. Even so, Belgium ended up having to oust holders Portugal to make it here, and it took an extra-time period with a competition record-equalling three goals for Italy to earn their berth in overcoming Austria. Both of these sides cruised through the group stage, however, and have the tournament's only remaining perfect records following the Netherlands' elimination.
Their success over Austria ensured Italy are now on a 31-game unbeaten run, breaking an Azzurri best that had stood since 1939, with their winning streak at 12. Yet Belgium themselves are 13 matches without defeat, despite having to deal with a string of injuries, and for Friday they are sweating on the fitness of Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard – it does not look promising.
Key stat: Both Italy and Belgium have won their last 14 UEFA European Championship matches, including qualifying, meaning they now share the overall competition record with the host nation on Friday, Germany.