Euro 2020’s last-16 line up was completed on a dramatic evening as three-times winners Germany left it late to secure qualification.
With Portugal skipper Cristiano Ronaldo on the verge of breaking yet another record and England bidding to end a 55-year wait for a major trophy, the race to the final at Wembley on July 11 promises further drama.
Here, the PA news agency takes a look at some of the talking points as the tournament reaches the knockout stage.
Just Ron more
Ronaldo’s penalty double in a 2-2 Group F draw with world champions France handed holders Portugal a showdown with FIFA’s number one-ranked team Belgium. In the process, the Juventus forward equalled former Iran striker Ali Daei’s record of 109 international goals and one more against the Belgians will bring a fresh accolade. Three of his tally to date have come against Roberto Martinez’s men. A fourth could prove priceless.
Sweet for Southgate?
Germany will head to Wembley for the latest chapter in one of international football’s biggest rivalries. From the Geoff Hurst hat-trick in England’s 1966 World Cup final victory to the Gerd Muller strike which ended their reign four years later and the Frank Lampard goal-that-never-was in South Africa in 2010, the fixture has rarely been uneventful – as Gareth Southgate knows only too well. The England manager had his penalty saved in the shoot-out against Germany at Wembley which ended England’s Euro 96 dreams at the semi-final stage. Revenge would be sweet.
Surprise Euro 2016 semi-finalists Wales are threatening a repeat after negotiating their way through a testing Group A and a punishing travel schedule which has taken them from Baku to Rome and now Amsterdam. Robert Page’s men face a Denmark side which has coped admirably with the emotional trauma of Christian Eriksen’s collapse on the pitch after suffering a cardiac arrest in their opening fixture, buoyed by a tide of support both at home and from the football family in general. In the circumstances, Gareth Bale and his team-mates may be considered underdogs – just as they were before they dumped Belgium out of the tournament five years ago.
When Belgium and Portugal go head-to-head in Seville on Sunday evening, there will be plenty of familiar faces to English football fans. Nine members of the Belgium squad play in the Premier League and 11 more have previously been on the books of clubs in England’s top flight, while eight of the Portuguese cohort currently play in England and five more have done so in the past. Three of the stars of Manchester City’s title charge last season – Belgium’s Kevin De Bruyne and Portugal duo Bernardo Silva and Ruben Dias – find themselves in opposition.
Quadruple for Deschamps?
France boss Didier Deschamps remains on track to complete a remarkable quadruple as his side face Switzerland in Bucharest on Monday. No man has ever won the World Cup and the Euros as both player and manager. The midfielder captained France to World Cup glory on home soil in 1998 and then to Euro success two years later. He was then in charge when France lifted the World Cup at Russia 2018. Four more wins this summer would see him make history.