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David Meyler: FA Cup final rematch between the Robertos is the pick of Euro 2020 quarters

With eight teams left at the European Championships, the former Ireland midfielder looks ahead to this weekend’s ties.

EX-IRELAND INTERNATIONAL David Meyler is The42′s football columnist for this season.

Every Friday, the former Hull City and Sunderland midfielder will give expert insight and his predictions ahead of the weekend’s action, alongside the latest William Hill prices.

In his latest column, Meyler previews the quarter-finals of Euro 2020 and picks out the nations he believes will progress to the last four. 

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Switzerland v Spain, 5pm Friday 

Switzerland pulled off what is likely to go down as the shock of the tournament when they knocked current world champions France out of Euro 2020 at the Round of 16. 

The Swiss tend to slip under the radar but they have some fantastic players — I really like Borussia Dortmund’s Manuel Akanji at the back, the much-maligned Granit Xhaka was superb the other night, Xherdan Shaqiri always turns up for his country at major tournaments and Benfica striker Haris Seferovic scored two well-taken goals.

romania-france-switzerland-euro-2020-soccer Granit Xhaka was immense against France. Source: Marko Djurica

Currently 13th in the Fifa world rankings, they are a well-organised team that also has quality and showed great character after falling 3-1 behind against France to come back and prevail in the penalty shootout.

While Switzerland were all fighting for the same cause, it seems that France have some problems.

Before the tournament, there was the public dispute between Olivier Giroud and Kylian Mbappe and you got a hint that something wasn’t quite right.

Make no mistake, they are a great team with several world-class players but maybe the success of the 2018 World Cup has gone to their heads a little.

With the addition of Karim Benzema, they were strong favourites for this competition but a degree of arrogance may have crept in.

There were big question marks over Switzerland’s next opponents, Spain, after their opening two games, which ended in draws against Sweden and Poland.

We know they dominate possession and dictate games, that has been the Spanish way since 2008.

denmark-croatia-spain-euro-2020-soccer Alvaro Morata scored a fabulous goal in extra-time against Croatia. Source: Stuart Franklin

But you wondered about the resilience of Alvaro Morata after the Atletico Madrid striker received criticism for missing a string of opportunities in the group games. 

His hold-up play is good but he looked like a fish out of water with some of the chances spurned.

Following their 5-0 demolition of Slovakia, they faced Croatia in what turned out to be another incredible spectacle. Ending in a 5-3 win for La Roja after extra-time, Morata popped up when his team needed him most to rifle home their fourth goal. 

That victory will give them the world of confidence and although I can see Switzerland going with bully tactics similar to those used by Croatia, I think Spain will be prepared.

I expect Spain to win, 3-1.

Belgium v Italy, 8pm Friday 

The fitness of key men Kevin de Bruyne and Eden Hazard is huge for Belgium heading into their tie with Italy.

De Bruyne is one of the best players in the world, while Hazard can also be right up there on his day. 

They would be massive losses but Roberto Martinez has still got loads of fantastic players to call upon like Youri Tielemans, Axel Witsel, Yannick Carrasco, Dries Mertens and the in-form Romelu Lukaku up front.

There are concerns about the back three and I think they can be got at. They are very experienced and comfortable on the ball but do lack that bit of pace.

soccer-fa-cup-final-manchester-city-v-wigan-athletic-wembley-stadium Roberto Mancini and Roberto Martinez during Man City's 2013 FA Cup final meeting with Wigan Athletic. Source: PA

I’ve picked Italy as outright winners from Day 1. The Azzurri were disappointing against Turkey but crucially got the job done to come through the tie.

You’d imagine they will regroup but this will be their toughest test so far.

As a side note, this match-up pits the two managers who contested the 2013 FA Cup final against each other once again. When the Robertos — Mancini and Martinez — went head-to-head at Wembley eight years ago, it was the Wigan Athletic boss who triumphed against the odds. 

Tonight, I’m going with a 2-1 win for Italy and I think Ciro Immobile will get back on the scoresheet.

Czech Republic v Denmark, 5pm Saturday 

The Czech Republic have grown as a team as the tournament has gone on.

They are a classy outfit, well-organised and I was very impressed with how they set up last time out against the Netherlands.

They started defensively but, once Matthijs de Ligt was sent off, went on the front foot and really pushed the Dutch back. The Czechs fully deserved to go through, while Holland were very disappointing and Frank de Boer has lost his job since their exit.

netherlands-wales-denmark-euro-2020-soccer Kasper Dolberg bagged two for Denmark in their 4-0 victory over Wales. Source: Dean Mouhtaropoulos

Next up are Denmark, another side I like the look of. I tipped them as my dark horses pre-tournament and I know them all-too-well from my time as an Ireland international.

They’ve got a lot of players at big clubs across European football, and I think they’re on an upward curve so I believe Denmark will progress.

They were a united squad already but the Christian Eriksen incident has undoubtedly brought them together even more and a lot of neutrals are rooting for them.

England v Ukraine, 8pm Saturday

Knocking out Germany will be massive psychologically for England. 

I think Gareth Southgate got it spot on in terms of his team selection, formation and gameplan.

He has no intention of seeing his side involved in blow-for-blow battles like Croatia-Spain or France-Switzerland. He wants to keep solid and compact, the fact that they have four clean sheets shows that.

The Germans are struggling at the moment and it will be interesting to see how they bounce back for the World Cup next year under Hansi Flick.

I think England should have far too much for Ukraine with the players at their disposal. That said, I don’t see it being an easy game for them and Ukraine will make things difficult.

england-v-germany-uefa-euro-2020-round-of-16-wembley-stadium Raheem Sterling has been in fine goalscoring form. Source: PA

Harry Maguire, Kalvin Phillips, Declan Rice and Phil Foden are all walking a tightrope as they are one yellow card away from a suspension. Uefa rules mean they will be reset after this round, however, which is a bit stupid in my opinion.

Will Tyrone Mings come in at the back or does he risk Maguire? He could potentially bring Jordan Henderson or Mason Mount in for one or both of the midfielders? Luckily, he has plenty of options and an array of attacking talent.

I don’t see this being a great watch, England will dominate the ball and probe until they make the breakthrough. I’d bank on Raheem Sterling and Harry Kane scoring in a 2-0 win — Sterling has been pivotal and everything is going in his favour right now.

That would set them up nicely for a semi-final against the Danes at Wembley.

 William Hill odds above correct at the time of writing. New online customers get €30 in free bets when they bet €10 with William Hill. Just use the promo code H30. For all the latest prices, visit williamhill.com. 18+, always gamble responsibly. For more information, see gamblingtherapy.org    

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