What to expect from the Euro 2022 quarter-finals

What to expect from the Euro 2022 quarter-finals

England face Spain in a blockbuster quarter-final at Euro 2022 on Wednesday
England face Spain in a blockbuster quarter-final at Euro 2022 on Wednesday. Photo: ADRIAN DENNIS / AFP
Source: AFP

Euro 2022 has already broken the record as the best attended women's European Championship of all-time and the business end of the tournament is still to come as the quarter-finals begin on Wednesday.

AFP Sport looks at what to look out for in the last eight.

England v Spain (Wednesday, 1900GMT)

The blockbuster clash of the quarter-finals is first up as hosts England aim to make the last four for the fourth consecutive major tournament.

The Lionesses have ridden the wave of home support to cruise into the quarters by scoring 14 goals without reply in the group stage.

That included a record 8-0 mauling of Norway in Brighton and they are back at the Amex for a very different test on Wednesday.

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Belgium secured the final spot in the Euro 2022 quarter-finals as Tina De Caigny's goal beat Italy 1-0 in sweltering temperatures in Manchester.

Spain had been pre-tournament favourites until losing reigning Ballon d'Or winner Alexia Putellas and all-time top goalscorer Jennifer Hermoso to injury.

Their presence has been missed as La Roja failed to make their dominance of the ball count in the scoreline in a 2-0 defeat to Germany and 1-0 win over Denmark, courtesy of Marta Cardona's 90th minute header.

However, England face a dilemma on whether to continue their front-foot offensive or sit back and soak up the Spanish pressure as Germany did to great effect.

The hosts could also be missing their manager. Sara Wiegman was not present for the 5-0 win over Northern Ireland after testing positive for Covid and faces a race against time to test negative.

"I think it will be the toughest game in the Euros given the level England are playing at - and that they are the host nation, their fans are behind them - but that is something that motivates us," said Spain coach Jorge Vilda. "We like a challenge."

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Germany v Austria (Thursday, 1900GMT)

Germany dominated Group B with a 100 percent record
Germany dominated Group B with a 100 percent record. Photo: DAMIEN MEYER / AFP
Source: AFP

Germany have emphatically dismissed any notion they were not contenders for a ninth Euro title heading to England by easing through what appeared the Group of Death up against Spain, Denmark and Finland with a 100 percent record.

The energy of Martina Voss-Tecklenburg's squad was too much for their opponents in the group stages to cope with and they also showed a flexibility to get the job done in different ways.

Denmark and Finland were blown away as Die Nationalelf scored seven without reply. In between times, they saw off Spain despite enjoying just 34 possession with a dogged defensive display, allied to taking their chances when they came.

Austria were surprise semi-finalists at the Euro five years ago and have again upset the odds by beating out Norway to take second place behind England in Group A.

They also pushed the Lionesses close in a 1-0 defeat in the opening game and will be no pushovers, even if Germany will be confident of reaching a first major tournament semi-final since 2015.

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"We are a small favourite to win," said Voss-Tecklenburg. "But we have to fulfil that."

Sweden v Belgium (Friday, 1900GMT)

Sweden are strong favourites to reach the semi-finals against Belgium
Sweden are strong favourites to reach the semi-finals against Belgium. Photo: Daniel MIHAILESCU / AFP
Source: AFP

After a slow start, Sweden clicked into gear with a 5-0 thrashing of Portugal on Sunday that guaranteed top spot in Group C and on paper a much easier route to the semi-final.

The Olympic silver medallists are strong favourites to see of Belgium, who have made it to the knockout stages of a women's tournament for the first time.

However, the Belgians are a rapidly improving side under Ives Serneels as they showed in running France close and beating Italy in the group stages.

France v The Netherlands (Saturday, 1900GMT)

France's coach Corinne Diacre is under pressure to get to a Euro semi-final for the first time
France's coach Corinne Diacre is under pressure to get to a Euro semi-final for the first time. Photo: FRANCK FIFE / AFP
Source: AFP

All is well in the French camp for now as they laid down a marker in their opening game by scoring five in the first half against Italy. A more slender 2-1 win over Belgium and 1-1 draw with Iceland followed, but there is a sense that Corinne Diacre's side are yet to be truly tested.

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Sweden needed a late winner from substitute Hanna Bennison to close in on a place in the Euro 2022 quarter-finals with a 2-1 win over Switzerland in Sheffield.

That challenge should come on Saturday against the holders, who will be able to welcome back star striker Vivianne Miedema from missing two games due to coronavirus.

Les Bleues, by contrast, will be without their most reliable source of goals after Marie-Antoinette Katoto suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament against Belgium.

France have never made it beyond the last eight at a women's Euro and Diacre is under intense pressure to at minimum deliver a semi-final after she was controversially kept on as coach despite clash with her squad at a home World Cup three years ago.

The Dutch's defence of the title has been a rocky one. On top of losing Miedema for victories over Portugal and Switzerland, captain Sari van Veenendaal is out of the tournament with a shoulder injury and another Covid-19 case for Jackie Groenen has left Mark Parsons having to cobble together a side.

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But Parsons is bullish France will fear his side.

"France are a top opponent but so are we," said Parsons. "They will not want to play us. We see an opportunity."

Source: AFP