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The quarter-finals of Euro-2021 begin on Friday with two enticing posters. On the one hand, a clash between two favorites, Italy and Belgium. On the other, the continuation of the Swiss adventure, against Spain, after their victory against France.
Who will stamp their Eurostar ticket to Wembley? The quarter-finals of Euro-2021 begin, Friday, July 2, in Munich and Saint Petersburg, with a poster that looks like a final before the hour between Belgium and Italy and a meeting between Spain and the Swiss “Nati”, proud winner of France in the previous round. The winners will access the last four which will take place entirely on the legendary English lawn.
• Belgium with an eye on the infirmary before Italy
In this Euro marked by surprises, Italians and Belgians are almost survivors, still standing when other favorites are on the mat. For the former, survival went through a stressful extension against Austria (2-1 ap), while the latter had to fight to eliminate the defending champion Portugal (1-0).
Still, for Belgium, the quarter-final is a mountain to climb. In four confrontations, Belgium has never beaten Italy in a big tournament. The Red Devils also risk being deprived of two of their guides: his playing master Kevin De Bruyne and his captain Eden Hazard. Coach Roberto Martinez has indicated he will make his decision at the very last moment.
During the group stage of Euro-2016, Italy – however less rich in talent compared to this year – had tamed Belgium by “KDB” and Hazard (2-0), present on the ground from the start sending.
“In short, let’s say that we have shown that we are more of a team than them”, summarizes about this match the coach of the time Antonio Conte, seduced by the work of Roberto Mancini. “I like the fact that it is a real team, its unity, its compactness. The balance between attack and defense, the fact of fighting all together”, he adds about the current Italian selection. , in an interview published Thursday in L’Équipe.
However, the same could be said of Belgium which, since the disappointments of 2016 and 2018, has learned to win “Italian style”. “First we are more realistic, retained midweek Devils midfielder Youri Tielemans. We saw it, we went against Portugal (1-0 victory, Editor’s note) with a single shot on target (… ). Then we learned to suffer. “
Belgian striker Dries Mertens, familiar with the science of results cultivated in La Botte after eight years spent in Naples, recognizes it in these “Red Devils” version 2021. “We also learned to ‘hold the zero’, it is this way we win tournaments, “he appreciated Wednesday at a press conference.
Italy, in full reconstruction since its absence from the 2018 World Cup, will seek to ensure that it is as domineering against the strong as it is for less renowned teams.
“Belgium is a bit the crossroads of our ambitions. To grow, we have to beat strong opponents”, added, Wednesday, the former Ballon d’Or Fabio Cannavaro in an interview with Gazzetta dello Sport.
• Switzerland must digest its “strong emotions” before Spain
A qualification against the Nazionale may give the impression that the way to the final is open. The poster to designate their future opponent, the quarter Switzerland – Spain Friday (6 p.m.) in Saint Petersburg, being a priori less attractive.
The two teams are not in the circle of designated favorites but this Euro allows them to dream after the ousting, from the eighth, of the Portuguese title holder and the last two world champions, Germany and France.
Blues just eliminated by the “Nati” which pulverized its glass ceiling. The Swiss, unable to qualify in a knockout match since 1938, broke the lock by offering themselves nothing less than the reigning world champions (3-3, tab 5-4).
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The top of a Euro roller coaster for the “Nati”, adored after being crushed during the group stage.
“The energy reservoirs, which are rather empty after such strong emotions, must be refilled,” warned the director of the national teams, Pierluigi Tami.
Good news for Switzerland, they may not be quite full on the Spanish side either. She also criticized after two inaugural draws, La Roja reversed opinion by stacking ten goals in the following two meetings. They notably registered five against the Croatian vice-world champions (5-3) at the end of a badly started match in the eighth, between the blunder of Unai Simon during the opening of the scoring then the advance of two wasted goals.
Also, the Spanish goalkeeper insisted Wednesday on the mental resources found to win in overtime: “Turning the scoreboard was a sign of the personality of the team.”