It seemed Euro 2020 started just a week ago but 48 matches and 135 goals later, we are now into the penultimate fixtures of the Championship as four teams remain in contention for the title. Today, we take a look at some of the things we can expect from the two semi-final games to be played tonight and tomorrow night.
Midfield Masterclass from Italy and Spain
In the final of the Euro 2012 between Italy and Spain, Italy lined up in what was a very Spanish-looking setup. The influence of Guardiola (who was setting the world alight at Barcelona) and Luis Enrique (who was the head coach of Roma from 2011-12) on Italian football had been significant. That night in Kyiv, the Azzurri abandoned their favored 3-5-2 set up to line up in a more Spanish-influenced 4-4-2 diamond that backfired drastically. Taking Spain’s own game to the Spaniards, Italy suffered a humiliating 4-0 defeat to cede the Championship to La Rojas.
Nine years on, the transition that started on that fateful night seems to have come full circle; Italy aren’t the old side that solely relies on iron-clad defending and quick counterattacks. The philosophy of Italian football has changed and this Italian team, orchestrated by a Guardiola admirer Jorginho is as Spanish as it gets.
For both the teams that have reveled in controlling the midfield and bossing possession, the midfield battle of the Italian triumvirate of Jorginho, Barella, and Verratti against the Spanish trinity of Busquets, Pedri, and Koke will most definitely be the deciding factor in the outcome of the game. Other than that, the game also promises to be a Masterclass lesson in ‘How to control the Midfield and win a game’.
Potential Banana Skin for England
Denmark are no pushovers but this is England’s best chance to get to a Major Championship final since 1966. Generations after generations of English talent that were touted to bring home international glory for England have failed but Southgate has worked his magic since taking over the reins in 2016. Back to back semi-final appearances in two major international tournaments (2018 World Cup and this year) are no mean feat but England now just can’t be content with a Semifinal appearance.
Against Denmark, the Three Lions will come up against the team that has won the most aerial duels in the Euros this summer. The Danes are a physical side and will most definitely look to play to their strengths against a more tactically nuanced English side; sitting back and defending deep while looking to catch England on the counter. This approach has worked for the Danes in their last two meetings where Denmark are lossless against England; one draw and one win. However, the familiarity may also present itself as an opportunity for Southgate who will be eager to get one over Denmark.
While Denmark are the underdogs on paper, this game may not be as straightforward as it may look for the Three Lions. However, anything less than a win for England will be a major disappointment for the Three Lions. Playing in front of the home crowd at Wembley, there’ll be no excuses for England if they are to lose out on a place in the final.
We haven’t had the best of summer predicting the outcome of the Euros so far. However, that will not deter us from making calls for the Semi-Finals again. How much can we get wrong right!
So, here are our predictions for the Semi-Final
Italy vs. Spain – Italy will finally get their revenge for Euro 2012 and win this one.
England vs. Denmark – England will book their place in a major international final for the first time since 1966