Thursday, July 1, 2021

The Euro 2020 Quarterfinals

Here's what happened in the Round of 16.  Only one game went to penalties, which is great.  The France/Switzerland and Croatia/Spain games were played on the same day, and they were amazing:

Belgium 1 - 0 Portugal
Italy 2 - 1 Austria (after extra time)
France 3 - 3 Switzerland (4-5 on penalty kicks)
Croatia 3 - 5 Spain (after extra time)
Sweden 1 - 2 Ukraine (after extra time)
England 2 - 0 Germany
Netherlands 0 - 2 Czech Republic
Wales 0 - 4 Denmark

So that sets up the following quarter-finals:

Friday, July 2 (Munich, Germany):
Belgium v. Italy

Friday, July 2 (Saint Petersburg, Russia):
Switzerland v. Spain

Saturday, July 3 (Rome, Italy):
Ukraine v. England

Saturday, July 3 (Baku, Azerbaijan):
Czech Republic v. Denmark
Here are the latest odds to win the title, according to the betting houses:

England:  2 to 1
Spain:  3 to 1
Italy:  4 to 1
Belgium:  7 to 1
Denmark:  10 to 1
Czech Republic:  25 to 1
Switzerland:  25 to 1
Ukraine:  33 to 1


  1. After only 7 minutes, Spain leads Switzerland 1-0. Switzerland isn't very good, and their upset of France was, to me, the most stunning result in the tournament so far.

  2. Spain let Switzerland hang around, and in the 67th minute Switzerland scores with a goal from Xherdan Shaqiri (Liverpool). As the Guardian explains, "Switzerland equalize on the back of some horrific defending by Spain!" We are tied at 1 goal apiece.

  3. Having gone 5-5 on penalties against France, Switzerland was digging in to defend the tie score and wait for penalties. But in the 76th minute, Remo Freuler (Atalanta) slides into the feet of a Spanish player. The referee gives him a red card and Switzerland are down to ten men!

  4. So this game is now pretty simple. To get to penalty kicks, Switzerland's 10 men have to keep Spain from scoring until both teams have played 120 minutes plus injury time. That will be about 45 minutes of play in all. Let's see if they can do it.

  5. Still 1-1 after 90 minutes. On to extra time.

  6. Still 1-1 after 115 minutes. The Guardian says that Switzerland are being "truly heroic," and maybe they are. But I'm never surprised when a soccer team doesn't score.

  7. The English have a great phrase for what Switzerland is doing. They call it "parking the bus." The notion is that when a team shows up for the game, it just parks its bus in front of the goal and dares the other side to score. I think the phrase captures both the tactic and the level of excitement that it generates.

  8. Switzerland did it! They got to penalty kicks. Sergio Busquets (Barcelona) goes first for Spain and immediately bashes his penalty kick off the post. That's not good for Spain.

  9. But Fabian Schar (Newcastle Utd) of Switzerland has his penalty saved by Unai Simon (Athletic Bilbao), the Spanish goalkeeper.

  10. Each side has now taken three penalty kicks and made only one. Gerard Moreno (Villarreal) makes his kick for Spain.

  11. And now Ruben Vargas (F.C. Augsburg) shoots over the bar for Switzerland. Spain leads 2-1 with one kick left.

  12. Match point for Spain. Here goes Mikel Oyarzabal (Real Sociedad). He sends the goalkeeper the wrong way and scores! That puts Spain up 3-1. Since Switzerland has only one kick left, the match is over. Spain moves on to the semi-finals.

  13. OK, now we have Belgium v. Italy. This is the only quarter-final featuring two really strong teams.

  14. In the 30th minutes, Nicolo Barella (Inter Milan) whangs in a goal and Italy leads 1-0.

  15. There is no sport that suffers more from lack of fans than soccer. I really miss the fans in basketball, but at least a lot of things still happen in basketball. Without the fans, soccer is very difficult to watch.

  16. Say what you like about Italy, those guys can play soccer. In the 44th minute, Lorenzo Insigne (Napoli) pours in a screamer from about 25 yards out -- just a blazing shot that the goalkeeper had no chance to stop. Italy is up 2-0.

  17. But wait! A Belgium player goes down in the box. The referee points to the spot! It's a penalty for Belgium! Or is it? The Italian players are protesting, as is their wont. We go to the monitor.

  18. OK, it was a penalty. Romelu Lukaku (Inter Milan) steps up and confidently drives the ball home, just as you would expect from a world-class striker. At the half, Italy leads Belgium 2-1. The Italian players are still arguing with the official as they leave the field.

  19. Italy hangs on to win by 2 to 1. So Italy will meet Spain in one of the semi-finals.

  20. Denmark beat the Czech Republic 2-1, and England is rolling over Ukraine 3-0 in the 55th minute.

  21. In the 65th minutes, England leads 4-0. England is going to make the semi-finals of the European Cup for the first time since (I think) 1996. In 2018, England made the semi-finals of the World Cup for the first time since 1966. Gareth Southgate, the manager of England, probably deserves more credit than he is getting.

  22. The oddsmakers did a really good job of telling us who was most likely to win these quarterfinal games.

  23. England roll over Ukraine for an easy 4-0 victory. Here are your semi-finals:

    Spain v. Italy
    England v. Denmark

  24. I will now be rooting for England.