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Euro Daily: June 27, 2021
The 2nd round of European Championship Last-16 fixtures will feature a pair of games, as the likes of Belgium and holders Portugal eye up quarter-final berths.
Below, check out five things you need to know about Sunday’s action.
1) Ronaldo’s special day?
Portugal talisman Cristiano Ronaldo has of course enjoyed a tournament to remember thus far at Euro 2020.
The attacker has continued to etch his name firmly into the history books of world football, on the back of five goals across his country’s three group stage outings. Such exploits have seen Ronaldo establish himself as the new all-time leading scorer at the Euros, with a hefty 14 strikes to his name. He also sits top of the Golden Boot standings this summer, two clear of the likes of Patrik Schick, Gini Wijnaldum and Romelu Lukaku.
Without doubt, though, the crowning achievement of CR7’s glittering international career (from an individual standpoint at least) will come upon the 36-year-old netting his next goal.
This comes with Ronaldo having equalled Iranian icon Ali Daei as the player with the most goals in the history of international football courtesy of a brace versus France last time out. Juventus’ talisman now has an eye-watering 109 Portugal goals to his name.
Could Ronaldo’s next strike prove doubly special, in not only guiding him beyond Daei, but also keeping alive his country’s hopes of retaining their European Championship crown at the expense of world football’s no.1 ranked side?
2) Euro 2004 memories
Prior to Portugal and Belgium doing battle on Saturday night, fans will first be treated to an enticing spectacle between the Netherlands and the Czech Republic.
The Budapest clash, for those old enough to look back on events of 17 years ago, will bring about fond memories of one of European football’s greatest ever games. The fixture in question, played out at Euro 2004, saw a star-studded Dutch outfit (featuring Jaap Stam, Clarence Seedrof, Ruud van Nistelrooy and more) face off against a Czech side almost equally brimming with talent (Pavel Nedved, Petr Cech, Tomas Rosicky).
The result? An end-to-end 5-goal thriller.
The Netherlands opened up a two-goal advantage inside the opening 20 minutes of action, as van Nistelrooy slotted home from close range to add to Wilfred Bouma’s opener.
The Czech Republic, however, refused to be beaten, roaring back to level things up courtesy of Jan Koller and a Milan Baros stunner. Then, after Johnny Heitinga was sent for an early bath, the game’s telling moment arrived fifteen minutes from time, when Vladimír Šmicer completed the turnaround to secure a 3-2 win for the Czechs.
Throwback to one of the greatest games in European Championship history.
Czech Rep 3-2 Netherlands, Euro 2004.
What a game.pic.twitter.com/I1tmtJySbJ
— GoalScorer Challenge (@GoalscorerC) June 11, 2021
3) Battle of the Manchester creators
Turning attention back to the evening’s highly anticipated late kick-off, Premier League fans will no doubt have their sights firmly fixated on a pair of the division’s finest creative talents.
The players in question? Bruno Fernandes and Kevin De Bruyne.
Manchester United standout Fernandes has actually endured an altogether underwhelming Euros to date, garnering heavy criticism for his hour-long display in Portugal’s defeat to Germany, before being dropped for his country’s crucial final day showdown with France.
Kevin De Bruyne – who of course plays his club football on the other half of Manchester – on the other hand, has lit up the Euro 2020 stage across less than a game and a half to date. The 29-year-old, after sitting out Belgium’s opener, was introduced off the bench versus Denmark in Belgium’s 2nd outing. And to say that KDB went on to make a telling impact would be putting it lightly, with the midfielder having rattled off a goal and assist to turn the clash on its head. Add to this another assist en route to a Man of the Match award versus Finland, and it becomes clear who has been the more impressive of the Manchester creators thus far.
💪 Lukaku’s strength
✨ The one-touch passing
🚀 De Bruyne’s strike
— ITV Football (@itvfootball) June 22, 2021
Time to step up, Bruno.
4) Czech blow
One of a select number of players to have picked up a suspension ahead of the Last-16 fixtures at the European Championships is the Czech Republic’s Jan Boril.
The 30-year-old, currently plying his club trade in his home country with Slavia Prague, will not be well known by many viewers of this summer’s tournament.
However, to the Czech Republic, Boril remains a key performer. The experienced stopper was handed a start in all three of his country’s group stage outings, lining out at left-back for Jaroslav Šilhavý’s men. A pair of bookings, picked up versus Croatia and England, though, mean that Boril will be forced to watch on from the stands on Sunday night.
With Denzel Dumfries primed to burn up the Netherlands’ right flank once again at the Ferenc Puskas Stadium, could Boril’s absence prove a costly one?
5) Lopsided draw
Our final talking point worth taking note of ahead of tonight’s pair of knockout fixtures centers on the cruel nature of this year’s draw.
If the Netherlands, as expected, down the Czech Republic, then Frank de Boer’s men face a meeting with Denmark in the competition’s quarter-finals. This will then likely be followed by a matchup with one of England or Germany in the final-4.
Conversely, on the left side of the draw, the side to emerge victorious from Sunday’s 2nd fixture – which in itself features the European champions and world’s highest-ranked nation – will be forced to take on an Italy outfit who have not fallen to defeat in any of the country’s last 31 outings. The nightmare-ish route to the finale does not end there, however, with world champions France potentially awaiting in the semi-finals.
Safe to say, the right side of the draw is the place to be at this summer’s Euros.
The right side of the draw is definitely the side to be on. Some huge fixtures coming on the left side!
The knockout stages will be fantastic viewing. pic.twitter.com/YXESbM0N9W
— Michael Beale (@MichaelBeale) June 23, 2021
Football Live streaming: Featured matches on June 27