After 12 days and 24 matches, we are down to the knockout stages of the UEFA EURO 20012, and for the remaining eight teams, the prospect of winning the competition has edged that little bit closer.
Defending champions Spain are one team among the eight that qualified from their groups for a place in the quarter finals. Among the eight teams, six – Germany, Ialy, France, Spain, Greece and Czech Republic – are former winners. The other two – Portugal and England are also in the competition that will resume on Thursday when the Portuguese take on the Czech Republic in Warsaw.
Poland’s National Stadium in Warsaw will host the first quarter final between Czech Republic and Portugal – two teams who bounced back impressively from opening losses to win their remaining group games. The Czech, who topped Group A after registering wins over Greece and co-host Poland, will start as underdogs against Portugal – who defeated Netherlands in their final group game to qualify.
The second quarter final sees Germany take on Greece in Gdansk. Joachim Low’s men will look to continue their 100% winning run in Poland/Ukraine – they have won all their matches in the qualifying also – and seal a place in the last four, when they face Greece on Friday. But Fernando Santos’ men know a thing or two about springing a surprise as few expected them to qualify at the expense of Russia and also very few expected them to shock Portugal and win the championship back in 2004.
The match on Saturday sees world and European champions Spain take on France in the third quarter final in Donetsk. The last time these two teams met in a major competition, Les Bleus came from behind to eliminate the Spaniards in the last 16 of the 2006 FIFA World Cup. That was the last time Spain suffered a knockout defeat. Spain topped their group following a nervy and less than impressive display against Croatia in their final game, while France were defeated by Sweden and had to settle for a second place in Group D.
The last quarter final in Kiev on Sunday is between Group D winners England an Italy. England exceeded all expectations by winning the group and have never reached the semi finals of the European Championships on foriegn soil and now are just one step away from it following back-to-back wins over Sweden and Ukraine. Italy, on the other, are unbeaten in the tournament so far and have made it through a tough Group C and are known for peaking at the right.
Thursday, 21 June 2012
Czech Republic v Portugal @ National Stadium, Warsaw
Friday, 22 June 2012
Germany v Greece @ PGE Arena, Gdansk
Saturday, 23 June 2012
Spain v France @ Donbass Arena, Donetsk
Sunday, 24 June 2012
England v Italy @ Olympic Stadium, Kiev
Wednesday, 27 June 2012
Czech Republic/Portugal v Spain/France @ Donbass Arena, Donetsk
Thursday 28 June 2012
Germany/Greece v England/Italy @ National Stadium, Warsaw
Sunday 1 July 2012
Winner of SF1 v Winner of SF2 @ Olympic Stadium, Kiev