The Euro 2020 Round of 16 is over and we are moving onto the tournament’s quarterfinals with Belgium, Italy, and England remaining but quite a few big teams missing the show. Gone are the famed trio from the pre-tournament group of death—Group F—France, Germany, and Portugal, as well as dark horse favorites Croatia, the Netherlands, and Turkey.
Instead, we will be treated to the following matchups: Belgium-Italy with the winner meeting the victor of the Spain-Switzerland clash, and Ukraine-England with the winner meeting the survivor of the Czech Republic-Denmark contest. It would be easy to choose the finalists as the winners of the Belgium-Italy match against England as none of the three teams on the English side of the bracket are at their level, and the Belgium-Italy clash will eliminate one of the remaining three contenders. But this has been a tourney of upsets.
Papa had felt the Round of 16 would have included first-timers North Macedonia, overachieving Russia and finally achieving Poland, and dark horse Turkey, when none of those four teams arrived the quarterfinals predictions were necessarily skewed. Papa felt England would upset Germany, but did not predict the French, Croatians, Swedes, Dutch, Welsh, or Portuguese would all lose.
With what teams remain in the Euro 2020 Quarterfinals, Papa will again stick his neck out and pick Belgium over Italy (assuming Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard are healthy enough to contribute), Spain over Switzerland, England over Ukraine, and Denmark over the Czech Republic. If these guesses turn out, and the teams’ main players are able to participate, then we would have Spain playing Belgium with the latter progressing and England finally bursting Denmark’s bubble to get into the Brits’ longed-for final.
The final, though, will go to the top-ranked team in the world and the Red Devils will finally have a major trophy to crow about with their golden generation. What lies ahead for them and all the others looking for revenge, vindication, and renewal, will be one of the more competitive World Cups in recent memory—Qatar 2022 in the winter.
Photo: Eden Hazard, 204874242 / Eden Hazard © Asaturjan | Dreamstime.com
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