The EURO 2020 came to life big-time at the end of the league stages. Germany fended off another group stage exit in the dying minutes of their group game against Hungary while teams like Portugal, Ukraine and Denmark progressed to the Round of 16 after finishing as the best-placed third teams.

Some of you might’ve tuned in just now, at the business end of the tournament. But don’t worry about missing out on the preceding action that you have missed so far. We’ve got you covered in this quick preview of the pre-quarterfinals, which kicks off at 9:30pm IST on Saturday, June 26.

Perfect starters

All of Italy, Belgium and Netherlands had perfect campaigns in their respective groups, winning all three opening games. Group A leaders Italy, in fact, became the first team to win all league games without conceding a goal at this stage of the competition. The Azzurri will face underdogs Austria in the knockouts, who won twice and lost once in their group.


On the back of former Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku’s three goals, Belgium also overcame testing emotions in their group, following Christian Eriksen’s cardiac arrest on the pitch. The Belgian Red Devils maintained a solid defensive record of their own, conceding just once in three matches. But results in the ‘group of death’ mean that they will face a challenging fixture against Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal in the pre-quarters.



View this post on Instagram


A post shared by OnsOranje (@onsoranje)

Netherlands scored eight goals and conceded only twice in their perfect league stage run. The Oranje now face a favourable matchup against the Czech Republic, whom they last met in October 2015, losing the EURO 2016 qualifier 3-2. With three goals in the tournament so far, Czech forward Patrik Shick is among the leading goalscorers this year.

Hot contests

Apart from Belgium-Portugal, the Round of 16 will also see a couple of other heavyweight battles. London’s Wembley Stadium will host Germany in a potentially electrifying fixture against the home team while three-time winners Spain will lock horns with 2018 World Cup runners-up Croatia.



View this post on Instagram


A post shared by England football team (@england)

England were able to top their group despite scoring only two goals across three matches. Two 1-0 wins and a goalless draw has the Three Lions’ fans wondering if they have saved their attacking best for the knockout stages of the tournament. A wounded Germany will look to improve on their lacklustre performance against Hungary, which they were able to draw 2-2, thanks to a late goal. A loss would’ve ended their campaign prematurely, yet again.


Croatia finished second behind England in their group, following a win, a draw and a defeat each. Their topsy-turvy form has handed them a knockout draw against Group E runners-up Spain, who were also victorious only once in the league games. Croatia won the most recent meeting between the two sides 3-2 in November 2018, but they also suffered a 6-0 loss to the La Roja in September that year – their heaviest defeat in international football.

Favourites and hardworkers

Current world champions France were considered favourites before the beginning of the competition, and they have handled the pressure pretty well so far. They emerged leaders in the toughest group of the tournament and are now expected to steamroll past the Swiss challenge in the knockouts. The Les Bleus are unbeaten in the last seven meetings between the two sides.


Gareth Bale’s resilient Wales squad impressed both fans and critics in the group stages. They will face Denmark, who became the first-ever team to qualify for the EURO knockouts after losing the first two games. The first game was marred by the unfortunate cardiac arrest incident involving their talismanic playmaker Eriksen, which could serve as a source of inspiration for the Danish in testing times on the field.


Another interesting battle between Sweden and Ukraine rounds up the pre quarterfinal fixtures. Sweden have been undefeated at this year’s EUROs, winning twice and drawing once. A dull Ukraine (two losses and one win), on the other hand, managed to qualify for the knockout stages by virture of being one of the best third-placed teams, just like Portugal.

Image: Instagram/@belgianreddevils, @portugal, @equipedefrance