The group stage has come and gone at this years’ 2020 European Championship. LFC players countries generally fared well in the Group Stage – only Andrew Robertson’s Scotland failed to qualify for the knockout rounds. I felt that the Group Stage was a bit underwhelming this tournament, but the round of 16 surely began to rectify that – Monday’s 14 goals across two epic extra-time matches was everything world class soccer can offer. An I haven’t even gotten to the reigning world champion France eliminated on penalties – just incredible drama. Without further ado, let us get to our round of 16 recap!
Wales 0-4 Denmark
Neither Liverpool’s Harry Wilson nor Neco Williams were able to secure a starting spot for Wales. Denmark opened the scoring after 28 minutes, and were clearly the dominant side. Questionable officiating and soft cautions were a consistent narrative during this match. Neco Williams came on during the 41st minute when Connor Roberts was injured. Neco was on the pitch for a matter of moments when he made a horrendous attempt at a clearance and gifted Denmark their second goal. Harry Wilson came on in the 60th minute with his side trailing 2-0. He made little impact before being sent off in the 90th minute. I saw this as a ridiculous straight Red, and terrible use of VAR. Wales crashed out and honestly, I don’t believe we will see either Wilson or Williams in a Liverpool shirt again. This tournament did not help either of their transfer values, as both failed to shine under the brightest of lights.
Belgium 1-0 Portugal
Diogo Jota started his fourth consecutive match for Portugal in their 1-0 loss to Belgium. Jota missed a glorious opportunity to grab the lead during the sixth minute. He snatched his shot wide following a great pass on a fast break. He was quieter as the match went on, and Belgium continued to control most of the play. Renato Sanches put in a great shift, and further showed why there is interest in him across the continent. I am not sure if I believe Liverpool FC are interested in Sanches, but based off his showing in this tournament, the rumor intrigues me.
Croatia 3-5 Spain
Croatia and Spain kicked off a wild and crazy Monday at the Euros! Scoring began with one of the worst keeper mistakes you will ever see, as the Spanish keeper mishandled a pass from pedri, and Croatia were gifted the lead midway through the first half. Spain grew into the game and looked to have a commanding grip on the match going into the 85th minute up 3-1. A quick two goals from Croatia forced extra time, but the Spanish attack proved too much. Spain put two past past the Croatian keeper in the first half of extra time to secure passage to the Quarterfinals. Liverpool’s Thiago Alcantara was an unused substitute yet again. In Spain’s opening four matches, he has zero starts and only 50 minutes on the pitch. I am not sure Thiago can expect much of a run in the Spanish side moving forward under manager Luis Enrique.
France 3-3 Switzerland (4-5 to Switzerland on penalties)
It what must be considered the best match of this tournament, Switzerland eliminated France in a wild game! The Swiss took an early lead, and could have gone up 2-0 if not for a miraculous Hugo Lloris penalty save against Ricardo Rodriguez. A Karim Benzema brace in two minutes saw France take the lead 2-1 in the 59th minute. A world class strike sixteen minutes later from Manchester United’s enigma Paul Pogba made it 3-1, and seemed to end the tie. But not so fast! Xherdan Shaqiri, who was admittedly less effective in this match than against Turkey, was subbed off in the 73 minute. Shaq’s Swiss teammates scored two goals, include one in stoppage time to force extra time. They then proceeded to go toe-to-toe with the world champs for another half an hour. Switzerland dispatched all of their first five penalties. Shockingly, Kylian Mbappe missed the crucial fifth pen for his team, eliminating France. Will Mbappe be available for a cut rate price now? Probably not, but a supporter can dream!
England 0-2 Germany
England found a way to beat Germany for the first time in a knockout round of a tournament in 55 years (and you thought Fergie time lasted forever)! Reds captain Jordan Henderson was subbed on for Declan Rice in the 85th minute to see out the match. Rice appeared to have an possible injury, so it is likely Hendo could be in line for his first start against Ukraine. Once again, Gareth Southgate’s defensive approach and lineup were questioned. His second half substitution of Aston Villa captain Jack Grealish made all the difference. He can’t actually start Jackie G from the bench again, can he?
Wildcard Report: Raheem Sterling at it again
Former Red Raheem Sterling will be our wildcard review for the round of 16. Once again he was at the heart of the attack, and appeared to be England’s best chance at a goal prior to the inclusion of Grealish. Sterling was bright with his movement, and tried to get Harry Kane going early to no avail. Kane was able to get on the score sheet late, but England is going to need a lot more from their captain if this trophy is really “coming home.” Until Kane’s close-range finish hit the back of the net, Sterling had scored all three of England’s goals during the Euros. I know it pains some Reds supporters to see Sterling succeed, but I cannot be anything but impressed with the professional footballer – and man – he has grown into.
The round of 16 had amazing goals, great comebacks and heartfelt stories. It also saw the end to the Joachim Low’s hands on the reins of German football. Now that I am confident Klopp has no interest in that job, I can be happy to see this era come to an end – due to both their domination on the pitch and having to watch that disgusting man on the tele (eww gross). I am really looking forward to the final seven matches of this tournament, and hoping we get to see another shock result or two. For all the Three Lion fans reading – it really is coming home! The final, that is… to Wembley. Not the title, sorry – but my money is on the winner of Belgium vs Italy lifting that trophy at the final on July 11. Thanks for reading and… Go Italy!