The latest news around Newcastle United’s attempts to sign Sevilla defender Diego Carlos suggests that the club could well need to offer in excess of £35 million should they hope to acquire his services.
As we draw closer to the end of the Euros, a burning question is on every football fan’s mind. Who will win?
We’ve already had a memorable tournament and it’s only going to get better from this point after an intriguing Round of 16.
The world champions and favourites France being slain at the death by Switzerland – a nation with a population of just over 8 million.
We’ve also seen an eight-goal thriller, a historic victory, two dramatic battles to the death, an upset, a thrashing, an underdog win.
However, this of course brings us to the next round, the quarter-finals. This will leave some teams miserable and puzzled and some teams ecstatic. It will also mark the beginning of the end of the tournament.
Switzerland have absolutely no chance of winning and are stacked up against the odds to even make the semis. Sure, they beat France, but to win they would have to play and beat Spain, one of Belgium and Italy and whoever makes it on the other side of the draw. Good luck! Switzerland have done remarkably well, sneaking through as a third-place team, and then going on to beat the world champions, but they will not go any further. They are simply unlucky to be on this side of the draw. They have some players that have been impressive but not for me overall.
Spain came into the tournament as a favourite, but started shakily, drawing two winnable games. They then thrashed Slovakia and have now beaten Croatia to book their place in the quarter-finals. While I expect them to beat Switzerland, they will not win, or even make the final. I think they have been shaky and lack composure up front. I also think their line-up does not have enough quality to beat teams like Belgium and England that they may have to face. Being on the hard side of the draw does not favour them.
The Azzurri have been extremely impressive this tournament. They were not troubled whatsoever in the group stage, winning all their games, and keeping a clean sheet throughout. They are an extremely well-coached side, with a strong defence and creative attack. This is not necessarily the star-studded team it has been in the past, but smaller names like Di Lorenzo have really stepped up. They have only really been troubled by Austria, but they deserved to win that.
However, all this past progress is in danger of being erased with this difficult draw, starting with Belgium. I think Italy will lose this match and be knocked out. This is a bold call, but I think Belgium’s quality will outweigh their side. Italy will not win the Euro.
The final team in this side of the draw is a good one. Belgium has arguably the best line-up and have been ultra-impressive so far, going unbeaten in the group stage and then beating Portugal in the round of 16. This team have been flying under the radar, but they have been the best so far. They will beat Italy and then probably beat the other semi-finalist. Yes, they are missing Kevin De Bruyne, but Belgium will at least make the final.
Moving over to the other side of the draw, we have an obvious one. Ukraine, like Switzerland will not advance, let alone win. They really snuck through the group stage, with only three points they managed to slip through. They then just went through against Sweden with a dodgy red card as well. Their seemingly impossible task is made even harder as they are playing a red-hot England in the quarter-finals. Ouch.
If England are ever going to win anything now must surely be the time. A smooth group stage followed by a huge win over Germany sets them up perfectly; They need to beat Ukraine, then Denmark or the Czech Republic. Their team is incredibly well-rounded, and their crucial players are heating up at just the right time. Raheem Stirling has been unstoppable and a great goal from Harry Kane to seal the win might get the ball rolling for him. With an easy draw England will go to the final, and maybe, just maybe win it (or get knocked out in a penalty shootout against Ukraine).
Czech Republic have not been a huge force at recent tournaments, but they have a divine chance here. A first-place group stage dream was shattered by England, so they had to be content with third place, although they were undoubtedly the most deserving third-place side. This was followed by a huge win over a seemingly perfect Netherlands side. Overall, coming third has suited them because now they are on the easy side of the draw and ready to go. They play Denmark first up which they should win and from there who knows. Their team is very well-coached and led by multiple players who have really stepped up; most notably Patrik Schick. They have a good defence and never give up. They will certainly cause problems, and I predict they will at least make the semis.
Our final team here has made it the hard way. Christian Erikson collapsing in the first game of the tournament was not a great start, but the team has made it here with great courage and unity. Despite this sprit, they had a mediocre group stage, coming second, but were overall lucky, being on equal points with Finland and Denmark, but a Wales thrashing brings them to this game with renewed confidence. Will they win? I do not think so, but who knows.
Belgium and Spain and Czech Republic and England will be the semis and the final will be Belgium vs England.
Is it ever a good idea to back England in a major tournament? Probably not but I will anyway. Their team seems complete, their best players are firing, and they have an easy draw. It will come down to the Final against Belgium, who a great team but England will win and lift the trophy. It will be a difficult run, but they will do it. Football will come home In Euro 2020.
Feel free to share your predictions in the comments.