So we now have the four quarterfinals after some really exciting last-16 eliminations, and after these I feel more confident to make some predictions, although in these knock-out matches anything can happen, and it has been reaffirmed that there are no bad teams in this tournament.
On a good day everyone can beat anyone.
And there is certainly also a difference on what I think will happen and what I wish for. So here come my predictions for the quarterfinals:
- Spain-Switzerland: both teams come from two extraordinary knock-out matches, but I would not expect another epic drama; Spain are enormous favourites and must be delighted that they will not be facing France. At the same time Switzerland are surely hoping for more, and will be playing without pressure, but they will be facing a Spanish side hungering for success and with a lot of talent. I think it is 99% sure that Spain will make a semifinal, although I hope that the little guy can beat the big guy again, and Switzerland pull another surprise.
- England-Ucraine: England defeated a poor German side, but nobody has scored against them, and they are looking more and more like having the cold-blooded confidence to go all the way. Ucraine in the meantime are there through a combination of luck and fight, but not exciting play. They defeated the most boring team of the tournament, Sweden, 2-1 after extra time, in one of the most boring matches of the tournament, and thus deserve to be where they are, but they are almost sure to get no further. On the more personal level it hurts to admit that I would rather see England in the semifinal, because I think it would be good for the tournament.
- Denmark-Czech Republic: In my unashamed subjectivity I hope that Denmark will win and make it to the semifinal. But I am concerned at how happy the Danes are not to be facing the Dutch when the Czechs actually showed themselves a much better team that the Dutch. Football teams are more than the sum of their individual players, and both Denmark and the Czechs have shown that, but I think that the Czechs have an upper-hand, because I think that they are more cold-blooded and will enter the match better-prepared than the Danes. I think the Czechs will win, but I hope the Danes will.
- Belgium-Italy: In some ways this is a moral final between two of the best sides of the tournament, but they have also been shaky at times, and certainly don't appear invincible. Belgium struggled to defeat Portugal (and were indeed a bit lucky) and with some injuries appears to be vulnerable to the Italians. The Italians also struggled to defeat Austria, but they prevailed with their heads level and made it to the next round. I therefore think that Italy is slightly more likely to prevail (60-40), but I certainly support Belgium wholeheartedly!
So if we take how I think it will go, these will be the semifinals:
- England-Czech Republic
In this scenario I predict a final between England and Spain.
But in my hopeful scenario these would be the semifinals:
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