By News Team
2nd July 2021
Two continental heavyweights meet as Belgium take on Italy in the European Championship quarter-finals, with Switzerland and Spain kicking the evening off.
We preview both matches below.
Switzerland take on Spain in St. Petersburg
Spain are odds-on favourites at 13/20 to beat Switzerland in the first quarter-final, but so were France, and look what happened to them! The Swiss appeared to be down and out when trailing 3-1 going into the final 10 minutes of their last 16 clash with tournament favourites Les Bleus.
Yet somehow, they clawed their way back to send the game into extra time and were clinical in the penalty shootout going through thanks to stopper Yann Sommer saving Kylian Mbappe’s spot-kick.
While it was the shock result of the tournament so far it was no fluke.
Switzerland fully deserved to knock the world champions out. They played with verve and unity. Brave and well organised at the back and with Arsenal misfit Granit Xhaka playing the game of his life in midfield they were always a threat up front.
The question now is can they repeat those heroics against Spain and go through to a first ever European Championship semi-final. The stats – they have beaten Spain just once in 22 games, losing 16 – say they won’t.
Ferran Torres and Alvaro Morata are now full of confidence with two goals each as they aim to fire Spain to a fourth European Championship title. And if they get past Switzerland the omens are good as they have gone on to lift the trophy each time they have made the Semis.
Switzerland can be backed at 12/5 to qualify or 9/2 to win inside the 90 minutes. You can also back the Swiss at 20/1 to win in extra time. Mario Gavranovic looked lively when he came on against France, scoring a superb equaliser, and if you fancy a repeat, he is 10/1 to be the last goalscorer.
Both teams are 12/1 to win after a penalty shootout but Spain will surely not be caught flat-footed as France were. Spain have goals and renewed confidence and team spirit after rallying round under fire boss Luis Enrique. They can backed at 14/1 to win 3-1.
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Belgium face Italy in Munich
Something must give at the Allianz Arena as Belgium, number one in the world and a year unbeaten, take on Italy who have not lost in their last 31 games.
Not only that but both sides come into this mammoth clash on the back of 14 straight wins in qualifying and at these finals.
Yet, surprisingly, neither hit the heights in the round of 16 games. Belgium were outplayed by Portugal for much of their clash, relying on a wonder strike from Thorgan Hazard to see them over the line.
Italy had been expected to sweep Austria aside in their first knockout game yet needed two goals in extra time to put them in charge at Wembley before conceding for the first time in 11 games and then clinging on at the end.
In all, the Red Devils have also scored in every one of their last 34 games, while winning 23 of their last 27 but, with injury worries over two of their star players Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard, they are as big as 12/5 to win inside 90 minutes. If neither play, which looks likely, then Belgium could struggle to create chances and their game plan could be to go long for Romelu Lukaku.
The Azzurri showed their class to come through the Austria test, but this is another step up and it looks sure to be a tight, cagey and tactical affair, in fact the kind of game Italy have been historically synonymous with. Of all the quarter-finals this one looks the most likely to go to extra time. Italy are 10/1 to get the job done then, with Belgium 12/1.
For Italy, it could be Lorenzo Insigne’s time to shine, he was 17/5 to score at any time before being boosted to 9/2. Both subs who came on against Austria – Federico Chiesa and Matteo Pessina – looked lively and they are 10/1 and 9/1 respectively to grab the last goal.