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A quick preview of Euro 2020 Knockouts: Round of 16

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The Euro 2020 knockout rounds begin this afternoon! This portion of the tournament is what makes international competitions so enthralling. One game, one winner. Whether it takes 90 minutes, 120 minutes, or penalty kick shootouts, this round of 16 teams will drop to eight. Here’s our preview of the Euro 2020 Knockouts: Round of 16.

2020 Knockouts: Round of 16
Tuesday June 15, 2021, Allianz Arena, Munich, Germany, Euro 2020 Group F – France v Germany. Thomas Mueller Germany against Paul Pogba France. (Photo by Ulmer/Imago/Icon Sportswire) ****NO AGENTS—NORTH AND SOUTH AMERICA SALES ONLY****

2020 Knockouts: Round of 16

The Round of 16 begins today! The nations who made it through a grueling group stage now come into some of the most enticing soccer, knockout play. There’s something about a one-off game. It amplifies the atmosphere in a stadium, on the field, and it even brings in those who may have not cared if this match didn’t have a win-or-go-home aura. Here’s a look at the eight matches in the round of 16.

  • Wales vs Denmark | Saturday, June 26 @ noon ET | ESPN
  • Italy vs Austria | Saturday, June 26 @ 3:00 pm ET | ABC
  • Netherlands vs Czech Republic | Sunday, June 27 @ noon ET | ESPN
  • Belgium vs Portugal | Sunday, June 27 @ 3:00 pm ET | ABC
  • Croatia vs Spain | Monday, June 28 @ noon ET | ESPN
  • France vs Switzerland | Monday, June 28 @ 3:00 pm ET | ESPN
  • England vs Germany | Tuesday, June 29 @ noon ET | ESPN
  • Sweden vs Ukraine | Tuesday, June 29 @ 3:00 pm ET | ESPN

How did these nations get to these win-or-go-home matches? That’s a long story. Each of these teams played three group stage games, and are either first place, second place, or one of the four best third-place teams from the six groups. Instead of going too far down a rabbit hole on that, check out our recap from the final group stage matchday to see how these teams advanced!

Now that these teams are onto the knockout stages, let’s look at each Round of 16 matchups to give a quick preview on the teams!

Wales and Denmark look to keep cinderella runs going

Wales made a good run in the 2016 Euros, and now they are on their way to what could be another good run. A win, a draw, and a loss were enough for them to secure second place in Group A. Their play on the field is more impressive than their results. Wales is organized defensively and shows a spark in attack through Gareth Bale and Daniel James. Those two will need to be lethal on the attack against a good and hungry Danish side.

Denmark opened their Euro 2020 campaign horribly, as their star player Christian Eriksen collapsed on the field in their first game. He went into cardiac arrest and his life was saved by his teammates and medical teams. Eriksen is recovering now and has been the rallying cry for his team through the group stage. The first two matches didn’t go their way, but a 4-1 thumping in their last group stage match qualified them for the knockouts. Can this underdog run faster than the others and make a run?

This match will likely be a battle of wits as both nations are very calculating. It is the perfect match to start the knockout rounds. Don’t miss it today at Noon on ESPN!

Italy looks like the best, can Austria take them down?

Italy has been the best team at Euro 2020. They won all three of their group stage matches to win group A. They get an Austrian side who are scrappy, but shouldn’t pose much of a threat to the Italians. Italy has not lost a match since 2018. They play beautiful soccer. It would take a huge mental lapse to allow Austria to take them down.

Austria is no push-over team. They have shown they can score goals, scoring four in their three group stage matches. The main problem is on the defensive end. Against the best team in their group, the Netherlands, Austria conceded two of the three goals they allowed in the group stage. If they lose their shape, they concede goals. They’ll need to defend first and then counter to beat Italy.

Italy should control the match. If they are sound in their defensive structure, then Austria will not have the chance to score. The main tipping point of this game could be those transition moments, whoever wins in those moments should come out victorious.

The Netherlands caught fire, will the Czech Republic put it out?

The Netherlands won all three of their group stage matches. They scored eight goals and only allowed two. It was a perfect run of games. Now they meet the Czech Republic, a scrappy underdog who wants to beat a European giant. The Dutch side will need to keep their strong form against a side that can score goals. Their defense is stout, and their attack is clicking. They’re on fire, but can they keep the orange blaze burning?

The Czech Republic was one of the best third-place teams in the tournament. They won once, drew once, and lost once. They showed they can score; their striker Patrick Schick has been on a tear scoring all three goals for the Czech. Can they ride his run of good form and beat the Netherlands? They’ll have to defend first to do so, which has been a problem against other top-quality opponents.

This match will likely be dominated by the men in orange, but when the Czech find opportunities to run with the ball, they can find good situations to score. If they can do this they may be able to push this match to the brink.

Juggernauts Belgium and Portugal face off

Belgium is the top-ranked team in the world. In their group stage, they won all three of their matches convincingly. They scored seven goals and only let in one. Belgium is a true contender in this tournament but faces a side with quality in the Round of 16 in Portugal. They can’t slip up and be at their best in order to move on.

Portugal has been an interesting side at Euro 2020. The 2016 champions scored seven goals, but let in six en route to a 1-1-1 record in the group stage. Their leader Cristiano Ronaldo, has five goals so far in this one. Portugal will need to be careful not to allow Belgium to get into their flow, if they do, it could be a quick exit for Portugal.

Belgium has a better defense in this match, which could likely be the difference-maker. If Portugal is still as leaky in their defense then Belgium will take advantage. Defense wins championships, this match should show that.

Croatia and Spain look to keep impressive form from final matchday

Croatia was runners-up at the 2018 Men’s World Cup. At the 2020 Euros, they seemed to have regressed. They won once, drew once, and lost once to take second in group D. Their main bright spot is defensive. The Croatians only let in two goals in the group stage. This will be key as they go up against a Spain side who scored five in their last match.

Spain had a rough start to their Euro 2020. They always dominate the ball but only were able to score once and take one point from their first two matches. They then exploded for five goals against Slovakia. Can they keep that momentum going? Their defense is good enough to stop Croatia, but their attack will be the big question mark.

This match has extra time written all over it. Both defenses are good, and the match will sit on a knifes edge until someone can put a real attacking sequence together.

Can France finally show its quality, or will Switzerland pull the upset?

France came into Euro 2020 as the favorite to win it. The reigning World Champions won the hardest group of the group stage, Group F. Many labeled it the group of death heading into the tournament. France didn’t lose in the group stage but didn’t look at their best either. Will that change against a team that is below their level, like Switzerland?

Switzerland made it to the knockout rounds as one of the four best third-place teams. Despite a negative goal differential, they have the chance to take it to France. Switzerland is a frustrating team with lots of talent, but it never really comes together on the field. What an opportunity to flip that script in this round of 16 matchup.

France should dominate this game. Switzerland’s only chance is to create a moment of brilliance. They are capable of it, but will they do it against the current World Champions France?

England face familiar foe Germany in round of 16 showdown

England had a perfect run in the group stage but didn’t look the best on the field during it. They won twice and drew once, only scoring two times. The English allowed no goals either, so why is it that this team isn’t renowned as one that could make a run? They haven’t been had it all click, but could it happen against Germany?

Germany took second place in the group of death after a late equalizer on the final day. They won once, lost once, and drew once; they scored six goals and let in five. Do they have enough to get past England? They have the firepower on offense, but if England muddles the game up it could make the match difficult for the Germans.

This match could have some brilliant play, or it could be very sloppy. There is no in-between. I’d expect this one to be close throughout, and the team that finds the first goal could just win it.

Sweden and Ukraine look to keep impressive runs going

Sweden is a good European side. They have exceeded expectations so far, as they won Group E. Two wins and a draw from three matches is a good run of form, now they get to show what they have in a knockout game. They have the chance to keep their impressive run going against a third-place side who is also on an impressive run.

Ukraine made it to the knockout rounds of Euro 2020. They are like many sides in this tournament who sported a 1-1-1 record. Ukraine had the chance to make it as a second-place team but failed to beat Austria on the final day of the group stage. They could struggle against Sweden’s defense as they didn’t do well scoring against quality opponents.

This game should be run by Sweden. If Ukraine wants to get into it, they’ll need to take their chances when they come, and actually, defend well against a very good Sweden attack.

Who makes it to the Quarterfinals?

Don’t miss the action! All of these matches will be broadcast on the ESPN family of networks. Starting today there are two matches a day going through Tuesday afternoon. Here are the matchups again:

  • Wales vs Denmark | Saturday, June 26 @ noon ET | ESPN
  • Italy vs Austria | Saturday, June 26 @ 3:00 pm ET | ABC
  • Netherlands vs Czech Republic | Sunday, June 27 @ noon ET | ESPN
  • Belgium vs Portugal | Sunday, June 27 @ 3:00 pm ET | ABC
  • Croatia vs Spain | Monday, June 28 @ noon ET | ESPN
  • France vs Switzerland | Monday, June 28 @ 3:00 pm ET | ESPN
  • England vs Germany | Tuesday, June 29 @ noon ET | ESPN
  • Sweden vs Ukraine | Tuesday, June 29 @ 3:00 pm ET | ESPN

Who will make it to the quarterfinals? Watch to find out, then come back to Philly Sports Network for more analysis, recaps and previews on this fun Euro 2020!

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Mandatory Credit: Ulmer/Imago/Icon Sportswire

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Philadelphia Union Editor of Soccer Content

A passion for the beautiful game drives me.

Twitter: @Tim_Lovenguth

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