EURO 2020 MONDAY PREVIEW: CROATIA VS SPAIN & FRANCE VS SWITZERLAND
Monday 28th June – 5:00pm – Croatia vs Spain
Both te ams have disappointed in their own way but yet, here they are in the last 16 of the European Championship. Croatia, finalists of the last World Cup, have not shown the same spark in this tournament, playing very poorly in their first two games. Without any attacking threat in the first game against England, a game they lost 1-0, they showed a little more in the last half hour against Czech Republic to somehow get a draw in that game. It was far more impressive in the final game against Scotland, where Modric showed up with the goods and delivered another incredible performance. His shot with the outside of the boot will certainly be nominated as one of the goals of the tournament. The Croatians were expected to challenge for top spot, but a string of bad performances left them in third place. The dependence on Modric is evident, the international retirements of Mandzukic and Rakitic are also felt within the Croatian ranks. They still have that mental strength which enabled them to scrape through to the final in 2018, but will it be enough this time? On paper, the quality of this team is on level with the Spanish team.
La Roja has also been disappointing in its own way. Dominating possession as per usual, the passing was as stale as ever, with very few shooting opportunities created, particularly against a very defensive Sweden. A draw in the opening two games showed the limits of this squad which is struggling to get back to its glory days. However, an impressive display against a poor Slovakia ended 5-0 to the Spaniards, qualifying them in second spot behind Sweden. There is a lot of talent for the future in this team, with Pedri notably playing a lot, but the lack of experience is definitely an issue. They are also lacking creativity and directness to their game, someone who can properly break the lines, whether that be with a pass or dribbling. With Morata struggling up front to finish off chances, this team could really struggle if Croatia come into the game with a very defensive mindset. Croatian keeper Livakovic said it would be ideal to keep the ball off their opponents, but in reality, counter attacking would definitely catch Spain off guard in this game. It is anyone’s game to take.
Prediction: Croatia 0-2 Spain
Monday 28th June – 8:00pm – France vs Switzerland
World Champions France scraped through the group stages with a first-place finish in the group of death. An impressive performance against Germany was somewhat tarnished by a fairly poor game against Hungary, albeit in the boiling heat of Budapest. Their draw did worry a few fans and pundits, but they bounced back with a solid performance against current European champions Portugal. A game of penalties resulted in a 2-2 draw, but two braces from ex-Real Madrid teammates Benzema and Ronaldo. The Frenchman finally opened up his account in the tournament, after a few criticisms started arising in France. The sheer quality of this quality is impressive, with Pogba showing the extent of his talent once again. There are a few things to sort out first but like in 2018, their group stages were a bit poor and they eventually delivered when they were expected to deliver, giving us one of the best games of the tournament against Argentina. Now Switzerland is no Argentina, but it certainly is not a pushover. They seem to meet at every tournament and France is usually victorious, but the Swiss neighbours will want to show their progress.
The Swiss have had an up and down campaign of Euro 2020 so far. Very interesting against Wales, where they probably deserved a win, they then showed a very sad face against Italy, who were simply too good for them. They luckily gained back their motivation and came out victors against the disappointment of the tournament so far, Turkey. There are the usual talents in this squad, with Yann Sommer, Xhaka and Shaqiri holding up the spine of this team, but players such as Akanji and Embolo are starting to show that they too can do it on the big stage. As usual however, it is the Liverpool winger Shaqiri who is guiding his team to victory, with another great set of goals in the final game against Turkey. The shape of this team could pose a real problem to France, with wing backs really pushing up and a directness in their game in the middle, so it will be no easy task for the French to overcome this very motivated Siwss, who will want to progress into the quarterfinals of a European Championship for the first time in their history. The talent difference is there, but sometimes you can have shocks and a good team spirit can often overthrow an overconfident team of superstars.
Prediction: France 3-1 Switzerland