Euro 2020 matchday 21: Battle of the big guns as Belgium prepare to face Italy

Belgium and Italy will both be hoping for some positive fitness updates as they fine-tune preparations for their Euro 2020 quarter-final showdown.

The Red Devils saw Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard forced off during the last-16 tie with Portugal.

Manchester City playmaker De Bruyne, who is carrying an ankle problem, and Hazard, trying to shake a muscle strain, have each been working on individual recovery plans, but may not be risked.

Italy are expecting to have defender Giorgio Chiellini fit again from the thigh problem which ruled the Juventus man out of the past two matches – just in time to try to shackle the threat of Romelu Lukaku.

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Switzerland head to St Petersburg with plenty of self-belief after a dramatic shoot-out win over world champions France, while Spain will be hoping for better luck on their return to Russia having been knocked out of the World Cup by the hosts on penalties three years ago.

England had little time to reflect on Tuesday night’s hard-earned victory over Germany as preparations soon turned towards their quarter-final in Rome against Ukraine – who will be missing Artem Besedin after the striker suffered a knee injury in their dramatic extra-time win over Sweden.

Tweet of the day

England expects

Captain Harry Kane insists England are ready to build momentum from the 2-0 victory over Germany at a bouncing Wembley as the squad prepare to head to Rome, where Covid-19 travel restrictions will be in place for fans. “We want to make sure that it wasn’t for nothing,” said the Spurs striker, who got on the Euro 2020 scoresheet for the first time with a late header. “We want to make sure we go and make it all worthwhile.”

Quote of the day

We have to respect Belgium, they are first in the (FIFA world) rankings, but all the teams have weaknesses

Ukraine ready for Premier League reunion

England’s team will need no second introduction, but there are a couple of familiar faces in the Ukraine side. Oleksandr Zinchenko has been largely used as a left-back at Manchester City, but is deployed in a much more attacking role for his country, bagging the opener at Hampden Park on Tuesday night. With 44 goals, West Ham frontman Andriy Yarmolenko is the second-highest scorer in Ukraine’s history – behind head coach Andriy Shevchenko. “If you look at their bench, there are players worth, probably, like three national teams of Ukraine,” Zinchenko said. “This should not frighten us, but rather motivate us.”

All good things come to an end

Defeat to England at Wembley marked the finish of Joachim Low’s 15 years in charge, during which time Die Mannschaft were crowned World Cup winners in 2014 – but also latterly endured plenty of disappointments. While Low was not able to depart on a high, his legacy remains intact as Germany get ready to a fresh start under Hansi Flick. As for the future, at 61, Low is not in any rush to think about his next chapter. “There will be a time when you find new energy for something else,” he said. “At the moment, I do not have any concrete plans.”

Stat Attack

The odds might be stacked against Switzerland as they prepare to face Spain in St Petersburg on Friday, having managed only one win out of the past 22 fixtures. You suspect, though, that after upsetting the form book with a dramatic penalty shoot-out win over world champions France, Vladimir Petkovic’s squad are not about to let those statistics given them a sleepless night.

Up next

Switzerland v Spain (Quarter-final, July 2, St Petersburg, 1700 BST)Belgium v Italy (Quarter-final, July 2, Munich, 2000 BST)

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