There are eight teams remaining in the Euros.
In short, if you’ve made it this far, you’re good.
The tournament has been criticised for its structure, which saw 16 of 24 teams qualify from the group stage, meaning there was no real threat for the big guns.
But the round of 16 shook things up immensely, with a host of powerhouse teams being knocked out, including the entirety of the “group of death”: Germany, France and Portugal all fell flat.
But who will go on and win it from here?
We rank the remaining teams based on performances so far.
The team happiest to still be alive at this point must be Ukraine. They were underdogs against Sweden in the round of 16 but managed to scrape through against 10 men with a late, late goal. England shouldn’t have too much trouble getting past them next round.
7. Czech Republic
The Czechs were outplayed by England in the group stage but caused one of the tournament upsets by knocking out The Netherlands to get here. They are solid, rugged and street smart — if not particularly exciting to watch — and their game against Denmark in the quarters is one of the hardest to pick.
An even bigger upset was Switzerland tonking out world champions France in a match in which they looked dead and buried midway through the second half. To come back from 3-1 down against the swaggering French to draw 3-3 and eventually win a shoot-out showed incredible strength of will from the Swiss. But have they already played their final?
Denmark got through the group stage on a wave of emotion after the collapse of Christian Eriksen in their opening game. While they’ve become many people’s sentimental favourites at the Euros, it’s easy to forget they’ve also increasingly been playing some brilliant football, even without their best player. With a solid spine, great team unity and some flair players up top, they were a dark horse before the tournament began, and now that they’re on the easier side of the draw, there are growing murmurs that the miracle of 1992 could be repeated. If they pull it off it would rival the greatest Danish fairytales.
With a terrible, COVID-blighted preparation for this tournament, Spain not surprisingly started slowly, with two bore-draws against Sweden and Poland. But suddenly the Cava cork popped against Slovakia with a 5-0 win, and they repeated their goal-scoring exploits with a 5-3 extra-time classic against Croatia. This is a mercurial outfit, which seems to lack depth in certain areas, so it’s hard to tell if they’re now on an unstoppable roll, or if they could fall apart at any moment. Regardless, they should be favourites against the Swiss — get through that and they’re in the semis.
On form alone, Italy should be favourites. They showed some old-school Azzurri grit in their extra-time win over Austria in the round of 16, following on from their waltz through the group stage, scoring seven, conceding none. Roberto Mancini has them playing some gorgeous football, and his squad has depth and spirit. But a question mark remains over whether they can maintain their dominant performances against a series of top-class teams. For them to win the tournament, they’d need to beat Belgium, then perhaps Spain, then perhaps England. Maybe they can do it, but this generation of Italian players hasn’t reached those heights in tournament football before.
England just beat Germany. That tells you everything you need to know about whether Gareth Southgate’s men are the real deal. While previously it was unclear whether the side was playing smart tournament football or actually just a bit lacking in cohesion, the 2-0 win over their traditional rivals shows they are going to be tough for anyone to beat. Southgate appears to have modelled his side on the France and Portugal teams which have won the last two major tournaments. Despite being laden with attacking talent, the focus is on remaining solid defensively, while relying on the boys up top to strike when the moment is right. On paper, it’s an easy run to the final from here. On paper.
With France gone, Belgium are now the team to beat. They have the best squad, the best striker in Romelu Lukaku, and they have experience in going deep into tournaments. While Belgium haven’t looked overly impressive in some of their games, they’ve got the job done and often appeared to have a few more gears to move up. That being said, with two of their best players in Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard injured in the battle against Portugal, Belgium’s biggest test could well be the next game against Italy. Make it through that and they should be very, very hard to stop.