The feast of football that is Euro 2020 conjured up another batch of riveting encounters and eyecatching displays in the quarter-final’s, with England arguably the pick of the bunch as they ruthlessly saw off Ukraine.
Having vanquished World Cup winners France in the last-16, Switzerland’s underdog story came to an agonising end after they were dumped out by Spain on penalties, while much-fancied Belgium’s hopes of major tournament success were once again quashed as they slipped to defeat against an impressive Italy.
Saturday’s fixtures saw Denmark continue their remarkable tournament adventure with a hard-fought win over a spirited Czech Republic side, before Gareth Southgate’s men coasted into the last four courtesy of a 4-0 drubbing.
Following the latest action, we’ve picked out best XI from the Euro 2020 last-16 fixtures:
Goalkeeper: Yann Sommer
He may have been on the losing side, but the Borussia Monchengladbach stopper could have done little more to try and prevent defeat, producing a string of fine saves both in normal time and in the shootout to blunt the opposition attack.
An unfortunate deflection off Denis Zakaria had given the 32-year-old little chance of preventing the Spanish opener, although he appeared to make it his mission to deny any further encroachment on his goal, despite the Swiss seeing Remo Freuler sent off for a questionable straight red card on 77 minutes.
With the game heading to extra-time, Luis Enrique’s side hoped to make the most of their man advantage, yet were met by a seemingly impenetrable force in the opposition net, Sommer making eight saves in extra time alone, before denying both Sergio Busquets and Rodri from the penalty spot.
While counterpart Unai Simon would also produce heroics in the shootout to clinch a win for Spain and UEFA’s man of the match gong, the Athletic Bilbao stopper admitted that it was Sommer who was perhaps more deserving of the award.
Right-back: Vladimir Coufal
Another man to suffer defeat at the quarter-final stage, the West Ham United defender produced a typically relentless display nonetheless, providing a constant threat down the right flank as the Czech Republic pushed for an equaliser late on.
Having conceded twice in a dominant Danish first-half, the second of which saw Coufal helpless to prevent a wicked Joakim Maehle cross. The Czech’s hit back after the break, the former Slavia Prague man providing the assist for Patrik Schik’s fifth goal of the tournament.
The 28-year-old has earned rave reviews for his superb displays in his debut campaign at the London Stadium and it was easy to see why, as he brilliantly pegged back the impressive Maehle in the closing stages, albeit with his side failing to find that much-needed leveller.
Centre-back: Giorgio Chiellini
There’s a lot to like about Roberto Mancini’s relentless side, yet there’s perhaps nothing more enjoyable than the sight of the veteran Chiellini marshalling his defence and quite literally throwing himself at the ball to prevent any opposition attack.
The 36-year-old’s continued passion for the game is remarkable, showcased by his obvious delight at each Belgian move that was thwarted, with the in-form Romelu Lukaku hardly getting a sniff against the Juventus man.
Find someone who loves you as much as Chiellini & Bonucci love defending 🇮🇹❤️ pic.twitter.com/ZbEPX4cC04
— talkSPORT (@talkSPORT) July 2, 2021
In an exhilarating and pulsating, high-quality encounter, the experience and the calmness of the Italian centre-back pairing of Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci was pivotal, the two men proving, as ever, that they can be relied upon.
Centre-back: Simon Kjaer
The AC Milan defender has already cemented his status as a tournament hero for his role in aiding Christian Eriksen during his horrific collapse in the opening game and now appears a man determined to drag his nation to the final after yet another commanding display against the Czech Republic.
Denmark’s two first-half goals had looked to have put the tie to bed, before Patrik Schick’s early second-half strike sparked a revival from the opposition, with Kjaer and co forced to withstand late pressure to fend off a Czech equaliser.
While that second goal looked likely, the Danish skipper remained calm at the heart of the defence, heading away anything and everything that entered the penalty area to help his side grind out victory.
Left-back: Luke Shaw
Off the back of a stellar season for Manchester United, the 25-year-old has only enhanced his reputation further with a string of stunning displays for the Three Lions at Euro 2020.
It’s been a long road for the former Southampton man – who originally made his England debut back in 2014 – yet he now appears to be at the top of his game and has firmly cemented a starting berth for both club and country.
— Goal (@goal) July 5, 2021
After playing a key role in both goals against Germany, including an assist for Raheem Sterling’s opener, Shaw then stepped up with two more assists against Ukraine, teeing up club teammate Harry Maguire with a delightful free-kick, before conjuring an equally delicious cross for Harry Kane moments later.
Midfield: Thomas Delaney
The 29-year-old is a top-class operator in central midfield and has formed a superb partnership with Tottenham Hotspur man Pierre Emile-Hojberg, the two men having been vital to Denmark’s progression to the last four.
While not renowned for his goal-scoring acumen, it was the Borussia Dortmund man who gave his side the lead inside five minutes, arriving at the back post to brilliantly head home after being left completely unmarked by the Czech defence.
Having produced the goods in front of goal, the defensive midfielder was just as influential in the second-half, putting in the hard yards as Kasper Hjulmand’s men hung on for victory.
Midfield: Nicolo Barella
Slotting in alongside two more seasoned pro’s in the form of Marco Verratti and Jorginho, the Inter Milan midfielder has arguably been the pick of the trio, having showcased his all-round ability throughout the tournament.
A terrific ball-playing midfielder, the 24-year-old also has an excellent knack of arriving late into the box, as he did so to great effect to give his side the lead against Belgium, weaving his way past an experienced backline before smartly finishing past Thibaut Courtois.
Not done there, Barella then sparked the attack for Italy’s second of the night, picking the ball up inside his own half before fizzing a pass out wide to Lorenzo Insigne, who duly curled home with a wonderful effort.
It’s hard to believe that the Barcelona midfielder is still just 18-years-old, such is his increasing importance to both his club and country.
While it was no perfect performance from Spain as they laboured to victory against the 10-men of Switzerland, Pedri’s display was no less eye-catching, as he dictated and dominated the play in the midfield alongside a fair more experienced pair of Sergio Busquets and Koke.
📊 Most successful final third passes in #EURO2020:
— Reshad Rahman (@ReshadRahman_) July 5, 2021
Having been without a professional contract just over a year ago, it’s testament to his quality that he has become a key figure at both the Nou Camp and for La Roja, with his creative prowess likely to be key if Luis Enrique’s side are to better Italy in the last four.
Right-wing: Jeremy Doku
Another teenager to have become something of a sensation overnight, the Rennes winger put in an outrageously impressive performance in the defeat to Italy, putting some of his more senior teammates to shame with a brave and relentless showing.
The 19-year-old had been a surprise inclusion in place of the injured Eden Hazard and struggled to make an impact early on, before growing into the game as it progressed, notably earning his side a penalty following a blistering turn of speed down the left-flank.
With the likes of Romelu Lukaku and Kevin De Bruyne struggling to create anything of real note, it was Doku who seemed most likely to get his side back in the game, at one stage skipping past a succession of players before agonisingly rifling over the crossbar.
Left-wing: Lorenzo Insigne
The diminutive winger has had a fine tournament thus far and capped it with a pivotal display against Roberto Martinez’s side, providing a real moment of magic to extend Italy’s lead just before half-time.
After receiving the ball on the left, the Napoli man cut inside onto his stronger right foot before unleashing a sensational curling effort that sailed into the top corner, the goal ultimately proving the matchwinner as the Italian’s hung on for the win.
While there remains something of a battle for a spot on the right side of Italy’s attack between Federico Chiesa and Domenico Berardi, the 30-year-old has undoubtedly cemented his place on the other flank and looks to be the difference-maker in the final third for Roberto Mancini’s men.
Forward: Harry Kane
It’s been a difficult few weeks for the England captain amid speculation over this future and following a slow start to the tournament, yet his quarter-final display was the clearest indication that he is getting back to his best.
Harry Kane has arrived. pic.twitter.com/6JpCgoPBuR
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) July 3, 2021
The 27-year-old had been once again quiet in the win over Germany, yet ended his goal drought late on, with that strike seemingly giving him the confidence he needs at just the right moment in the competition.
Against Ukraine, the Tottenham striker struck early after latching on to an excellent Raheem Sterling through ball, before powering a header home early in the second-half for the Three Lions’ third of the game. He then almost capped the night with a bang after a fierce volleyed effort at goal on his weaker foot, only to be denied by the outstretched hand of Georgi Bushchan.