1) England (up 1)
Gareth Southgate’s side advanced to the semi-finals with an almost complete performance against Ukraine. Not only were they strong on defense, recording their fifth straight clean sheet, but the inclusion of Jadon Sancho in the three-way attacking midfielder behind Harry Kane added another dimension to their forward game. Raheem Sterling was sublime again, including the assist for Kane’s opening goal, while the Tottenham striker has now scored three times in two matches after a tough start to the tournament. England face Denmark at Wembley in the semi-final on Wednesday, believing they can go all the way.
2) Italy (up 1)
The only criticism that had been leveled at Italy during their incredible 32-game unbeaten streak was that they had failed to beat any team in the top 15 of the Fifa World Rankings. Yes it was flaky – you can only beat what’s put in front of you – but it doesn’t matter now after the Azzurri2-1 victory over Belgium on Friday. Roberto Mancini’s side were electric at times up front and solid at the back and the only sour note of the night was a serious injury to their marauding left-back Leonardo Spinazzola, who ruptured his achilles. “The team progressed game after game,” said a satisfied Mancini. “Even when there have been difficult matches, the team has always improved – and there is still room for improvement.” Sinister.
3) Denmark (up 2)
The fairy tale continues. Kasper Hjulmand’s side deserved their 2-1 victory over the Czech Republic, even though the second half was difficult. In the first 45 minutes, the Danes were creative, energetic and effervescent. They could have led 4-0 at halftime, but they ended up having to settle for two goals, a header from Thomas Delaney and a poacher’s goal from Kasper Dolberg after a sumptuous cross from Joakim Mæhle. . Praise must also go to Hjulmand, who responded to the Czechs by taking the initiative in the second half by making a double substitution in the 59th minute to regain control in the midfield.
4) Spain (-)
And suddenly, they were in the semifinals. In one way or another. Luis Enrique’s side did not impress in their victory against Switzerland after the penalty shoot-out, but they won’t complain. This somewhat strange Spain team, without any Real Madrid player and without real stars, is in the last phase of a tournament for the first time since winning the Euro in 2012. Against Switzerland, it played with one older man for 42 years. minutes without creating too many opportunities. “It’s a euphoric moment,” said goalkeeper Unai Simón, who made the horrible mistake against Croatia. “I got very excited, very emotional, all this fury, all this desire. Something in me wanted this.
5) Belgium (down from 4)
The end of an era? From a golden generation? Maybe not quite, but there will be a nerve-racking introspection at the Belgian FA after this latest failure to see it through. They gave it their all against Italy and, perhaps, with Eden Hazard on the pitch and a great Kevin De Bruyne, they could have done it. As it was, they ran aground on a frenzied night in Munich. The defense – with Thomas Vermaelen, Jan Verthongen and Toby Alderweireld – will have to be renewed but with the World Cup just 18 months away there may not be big changes. 19-year-old Jérémy Doku’s scintillating performance will give Belgian fans hope as they try to regroup.
6) Switzerland (-)
In the end, there was not to be any further upheaval. Switzerland once again forced a European superpower into extra time and penalties but, unlike France, they beat Spain, missing three of their four shots on goal. They were impressive again, despite Breel Embolo’s early loss to injury and recovered from a goal behind to score a handsome equalizer from Xherdan Shaqiri. Their threat as an attacking force, however, ended when Remo Freuler was harshly sent off in the 77th minute. Coach Vladimir Petkovic was right when he called his players “heroes” after the game. Switzerland had a very good tournament.
7) Czech Republic (-)
A good half against Denmark was not enough and the Czechs came out after a 2-1 loss in Baku. They took a different side out in the second half, led 2-0, and Jaroslav Silhavy’s substitutions worked wonders at the start, but after Patrik Schick scored his fifth goal of the tournament, they struggled to create any clear chances against a compact Danish defense. . Goalkeeper Tomas Vaclik, who again made several important saves, said he was proud of what he and his teammates had achieved this summer. “No one believed in us but we stuck together,” he told uefa.com. “There is a strong team spirit. We have something special about this group. Over time, I think we will only find positive points from this tournament.
8) Ukraine (-)
The game against England turned out to be a bit too far for Andriy Shevchenko’s side. They had a game plan, similar to the one that had done so well against Sweden, but were called off in four minutes as Harry Kane rushed into the box, quite unchallenged, to score. An injury to Serhiy Kryvtsov meant a change in squad for Ukraine, in what looked like a four-man comeback, and they had their best of the game before the break. However, the match ended as a contest when Harry Maguire scored with a header. Ukraine made its country proud by reaching the last eight. Now they have to sweat to find out if Shevchenko stays or moves on to club football.