The first matches of the 1/8 finals took place at Euro 2020. The national teams of Denmark and Italy, as expected, beat rivals from Wales and Austria, however, they made a completely different impression. MK-Sport tells the details.
The Wales national team in the match against the Danes was initially considered the underdog – if in football at all this term can be used from the world of fighting of the classical era. By the way, this term initially meant not just a weaker fighter, but one who, on a rare successful day, can hit and overwhelm a favorite. So the Welsh – as it was supposed – are capable of this. Moreover, their rival was not some top team, but Denmark – the same one that has always passed in the category of strong and solid teams, but nothing more,
But the match of 1/8 finals of the European Championship Wales – Denmark can now be saved in collections as an ideal illustration of the fact that real life stubbornly does not coincide with the schemes with reference books. Yes, Wales leader Gareth Bale won the Champions League final for Real Madrid, and Denmark’s forward Martin Braithwaite at Barcelona looks like a complete misunderstanding. But the Welsh at the critical moment, apart from Bale, had no one at all capable of jumping above average. And the Danish national team performed such a jump with the whole composition – in the match with Belgium. And then again – with Russia. And now more.
If someone did not understand why Denmark was in the 10th place in the FIFA rating before the start of this Euro – above Germany, Croatia or the Netherlands – then the questions were removed. This is a team that does not have a single really weak line. A team that is capable of doing an incredible amount of work at its peak – the Danes outnumbered their opponents in movement in every match. A team that, as it turned out, has so many bright players from the top clubs that they have to be released on the field one by one.
Why someone believed that the Russian national team had to fight this team for second place is absolutely incomprehensible. The team Cherchesova in structure, there are two decent players from European clubs ( Golovin and Aleksei Miranchuk ), and neither is the leader of his team. Plus one spare from Valencia and a group of RPL stars from Zenit (failed the Champions League), Spartak (did not play in European competition), CSKA (failed the Europa League), etc. And Denmark does not have enough space in the field to accommodate the solid players of the base of Leicester, Milan, Inter, Atalanta, Chelsea, Borussia, Leipzig and a dozen other smaller clubs. The difference is exactly in order to beat Russia 4: 1. And Wales – and at all 4: 0.
At the same time, it cannot be said that the Welsh looked very weak or played worse than Cherchesov’s charges. The Wales national team fought much better than the Russians in Copenhagen. They tried to respond to each attack with their own. We lost the ball often – but who will not lose it under Danish pressure! But when it was possible to slip out from under it, they rushed forward with all their legs (and Bale’s legs are still unusually fast). Denmark was just stronger. First, in the first half, Dolberg succeeded in a miraculous blow: he sent the ball into the far bottom corner, outflanking three defenders. At least twice the Welsh had a chance to level the score, but Schmeichelwas in place. And after the break, when the Wales national team came out to tear, throw and push, the same Dolberg managed to score another one – and this was the most important goal of the match. It took the Welsh ten minutes to recover from such a blow and figure out how to restructure the game. While they were sorting out, there was not much time left, and they began to get nervous and in a hurry, and when it all came down to a simple bulk, the Danes ran away into quick attacks a couple of times, scoring in the 88th and 94th minutes. The final score, of course, is impressive – 4: 0 all the same. But the content of the game does not reflect at all – the Welsh looked weaker, but they did not look hopeless. All details can be found in our broadcast .
And Denmark continues its triumphant march. They are already in the quarterfinals, where they are to face the winner of the Netherlands – Czech Republic pair. And now it is completely unclear who should be considered the favorite and who the underdog in this quarterfinals.
In the second match of the day, the alignment was even more obvious. Italy, which impressed everyone in the group stage so much with its results (3 wins in three matches without a single conceded goal) and even more with its well-staged play, faced Austria, whose main victory was a victory over not particularly resisting Ukraine. It seemed that the whole intrigue boils down to the fact that it is impossible to predict whether we will see a major Italian victory or see a long and thoughtful process of hacking into an Austrian bus.
In reality, neither one nor the other happened. The Italians began to habitually weave their combinations on the approaches to someone else’s penalty, but the Austrian team resolutely stopped it. And she informed the rivals that they would have to play different football. The one where the opponent has his own well-organized play. Where the coolest player does not play for Italy at all – David Alaba on his flank trampled one opponent in a blue uniform after another, and completely refused to get tired. Where, in none of the episodes, none of the Austrians will yield either in speed or in the desire to fight.
To such a Roberto Manciniobviously did not prepare his team. Somewhere in the middle of the first half, a quite characteristic episode happened: several times in a row the defenders of the squadra of azzurra made forward passes, and the midfielders immediately returned the ball back – first one, then the second, then the third. None of the Italians could comfortably receive the ball, tinker with it, look around and figure out what to do – all decisions had to be made under pressure, risking losing the ball (and losing it regularly), all attacks were carried out overcoming resistance. Those who do not believe can look at the official statistics: there is almost equal ball possession, equal running distance, and the Italians also have high passing accuracy – just the same as they fill with passes back to defenders and goalkeeper. And the indicative line “blocked strikes”:
In general, it was a real playoff match. That evening, the Austrian national team firmly decided not to concede – and they succeeded. Moreover, in 90 minutes of the match, only the Austrians managed to score, Alaba made a great discount, Arnautovich shot perfectly. Only the judges did not have any faith in beauty – the goal was canceled due to the fact that the knee of the Austrian forward went offside. Everything is according to the rules, but it’s a shame: I would like to see how the Italians will try to recoup in time pressure conditions.
But Roberto Mancini was once again lucky. Along the way, the cancellation of the goal finally pissed off Arnautovich, who was never distinguished by a restrained character. He became nervous and was replaced. And Italy was never able to overcome the elastic Austrian defense, for the first time in the tournament it showed itself a team without a clear plan of action.
Ultimately, the length of the bench decided everything. In overtime, the leaders of the Austrian national team no longer ran as fast as in the first two halves. And Mancini just changed one set of attacking players for another. And it worked: in the 95th minute, the fresh Chiesa was able to break away from the defenders and score. After another 10 minutes, the same trick was repeated by the substitute Pessin , and the score was 2: 0.
Austria had the strength (and replacement) out to play one goal – replacing Arnautovic Kalaydzhich scored after a corner kick six minutes before the expiry time of the second overtime. But there was no time and effort for the final assault. For details – in our broadcast .
Italy, as expected, advanced to the quarterfinals. But now this team no longer looks as invulnerable as it seemed a day ago. Her next opponent will be determined in a pair of Belgium – Portugal, and any of these teams will have no less chances of knocking out Italy than the Austrians had. Although we are being modest: such an Italy the national team of Belgium with De Bruyne and Lukaku should simply sweep away! Well, Portugal can replay, True, Mancini has a few days to comprehend what he saw.