5 things you need to know about England vs Ukraine & Denmark vs Czech Republic
- UEFA EURO 2020
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Euro Daily: July 3rd, 2021
The 2nd and final round of European Championship Last-8 fixtures will feature a pair of games, as the likes of England and Denmark eye up semi-final berths.
Below, check out five things you need to know about Saturday’s action.
1) England beware
‘It’s coming home’ – this phrase has of course dominated the English football landscape over the course of the last week, as fans of the Three Lions, whether legitimately or with tongue in cheek, point towards an end being brought to the nation’s 55-year long wait for silverware.
Gareth Southgate’s men are fresh off the back of a crucial win over Germany, significant in not only booking their spot in the Last-8 of Euro 2020, but also in simply getting the better of one of the continent’s heavyweights when it mattered most.
What England’s stars simply cannot afford to do, however, is get carried away with their achievements thus far this summer. Too many have already mapped out the Three Lions’ route to the competition’s finale, overlooking not only one of Denmark or the Czech Republic in the semi-finals, but also upcoming opponents Ukraine.
If there is one thing that the frantic action at the Euros thus far has taught us, it is that shocks, and high-profile ones at that, lie in wait around every corner. World champions France were of course sent packing by an underdog Swiss side, the Netherlands were comfortably dispatched of by the Czechs, and even Sweden, this week, were widely expected to get the better of Ukraine.
Andriy Shevchenko’s men will thrive off their status as complete underdogs on Saturday, ready to sit deep in an attempt to beat England at their own game. This evening’s favourites, in turn, best be in the correct frame of mind.
LONDON, ENGLAND – JUNE 13: Mason Mount rushes to congratulate team-mate Raheem Sterling of England after he scores a goal to make it 1-0 during the UEFA Euro 2020 Championship Group D match between England and Croatia on June 13, 2021 in London, England. (Photo by Robin Jones/Getty Images)
2) Sterling eyeing Three Lions record
Sticking with tonight’s late kick-off, one of England’s star performers to this point in the European Championships will have his sights firmly on a spot in the nation’s record books.
The player in question? Raheem Sterling.
Manchester City wide-man Sterling’s 3-goal haul this summer has already seen him join an elite group in the history of English football.
The 26-year-old now stands as one of only three players to ever find the net on a trio of occasions in a single European Championship tournament. The others? Alan Shearer, Wayne Rooney and Frank Lampard.
⚠️ | QUICK STAT
Players to score 3+ goals at the European Championships for #ENG:
Alan Shearer – 5 ⚽️ (1996)
Wayne Rooney – 4 ⚽️ (2004)
Frank Lampard – 3 ⚽️ (2004)
Raheem Sterling – 3 ⚽️ (2021)
— SofaScore (@SofaScoreINT) June 29, 2021
Could Sterling make it four later today, to inch ever closer to legendary hitman Shearer’s all-time benchmark?
3) Battle of the resurgent wonderkids
Turning our attentions to this evening’s less talked about fixture, a wonderful 90 minutes of football should too be in store between Denmark and the Czech Republic in Baku.
And one aspect of the clash which we have opted to hone in on surrounds the upcoming battle between a pair of resurgent young strikers – Kasper Dolberg and Patrik Schick. Both Dolberg and Schick, early in their respective careers, were tipped as the ‘next big thing’, on the back of breakthrough seasons at Ajax and Sampdoria respectively.
Recent years, however, have proven altogether more challenging for the pair, with big-money moves to the likes of Nice and AS Roma (albeit with Schick having since moved on) having not worked out quite according to plan.
This summer, though, has seen both Dolberg and Schick remind onlookers of their exceptional respective abilities. The former, on the back of an injury picked up by Yussuf Poulsen, was handed his first start of the Euros last time out, in the Danes’ Last-16 meeting with Wales. And Dolberg went on to step up in a major way, notching a fine brace to guide his nation to a 4-0 victory.
Elsewhere, Czech hitman Schick has proven one of the star performers of the entire competition. The Bayer Leverkusen striker already has four goals to his name, good enough for 2nd in the race for the Golden Boot. Not only that, but he currently boasts a clear lead in the battle for Goal of the Tournament, on the back of this outrageous effort versus Scotland:
Patrik Schick with the goal of the tournament.
— Footy Accumulators (@FootyAccums) June 14, 2021
So, in the battle of the resurgent hitmen, just who will come out on top this time around?
4) Yarmo’s point to prove
Another attacker who will no doubt be desperate to add to his goal tally later this evening is Ukraine’s Andriy Yarmolenko.
The 31-year-old, like the aforementioned pair, has enjoyed a fine Euros to date, chipping in with two goals and two assists, amid a series of standout displays along his country’s right flank.
‘Yarmo’, though, won’t be keen to light up the Stadio Olimpico later today solely in a bid to guide Ukraine to a shock semi-final berth. The former Borussia Dortmund man, too, will be eager to prove himself to all of the English fans watching on from home.
Yarmolenko, of course, has been plying his trade in the Premier League since the summer of 2018, with West Ham United. To this point, though, a lengthy string of fitness issues, along with firm competition for places, have prevented the experienced attacker from showcasing his obvious talents.
This evening, up against the might of the Three Lions, Yarmolenko will therefore go about doing exactly that, potentially catching the eye of David Moyes in the process.
5) Czechs eye 2004 repeat
Our final talking point worth taking note of ahead of tonight’s action surrounds a memorable previous meeting between Denmark and the Czech Republic.
Somewhat surprisingly, the upcoming Baku showdown will in fact not mark the first occasion on which the two nations have faced off in the Last-8 of the European Championships.
Back in 2004, the Czechs and Danes also did battle, with their sights firmly set on a semi-final berth. And though it is the latter who are widely considered as favourites to advance later today, seventeen years ago, the Czech Republic made clear their superiority, en route to a 3-0 drubbing of their upcoming opponents.
Former Liverpool man Milan Baros proved the star of the show, bagging a brace, after strike partner Jan Koller handed the Czechs the lead early in the 2nd-half:
— UEFA EURO 2020 (@EURO2020) June 27, 2020
Will Jaroslav Silhavy’s men invoke the spirit of their 2004 counterparts to spring another surprise this evening? Or will tournament darlings Denmark continue to prove themselves in the absence of star man Christian Eriksen?