England will face Germany in their highly anticipated Round of 16 clash on Tuesday at Wembley.
The convoluted format of Euro 2020 has ensured that attempts to map out a route to the final for any side was impossible until the conclusion of the group stages.
Gareth Southgate’s side won Group D while Germany finished second in Group F – but were just one goal away from going out of the tournament at the group stages.
Leon Goretzka’s late strike registered a point for Joachim Low’s side against outsiders Hungary, who subsequently crashed out of the tournament despite their admirable efforts.
The chaotic final day of action in Group F ensured that at various stages in the evening, England were scheduled to play against each side in the group – with France eventually winning the group with Portugal qualifying in third spot.
The winners of the match between the Three Lions and Germany will be rewarded with a quarter final place against the winners of Sweden – who won Group E – against Ukraine, who advanced to this round as one of the best third-placed finishers.
The Swedes were one of the most impressive sides in the group stages, building on their opening day scoreless draw against Spain with victories over both Slovakia and Poland.
Janne Andersson’s side are well-known for their defensive solidity but they also are not short of talent – RB Leipzig playmaker Emil Forsberg and Alexander Isak, the highly-rated Real Sociedad striker, have been standout performers in this tournament to date.
Ukraine progressed as the fourth best third-placed side – their win over North Macedonia was sandwiched between defeats to the Netherlands and Austria.
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Their main players include Premier League stars Oleksandr Zinchenko (Manchester City) and Andriy Yarmolenko (West Ham), with Atalanta’s Ruslan Malinovskyi and Gent striker Roman Yaremchuk are also key threats.
Neither Sweden nor Ukraine were highly fancied to go far into the tournament but both now have a prime opportunity to advance through to the latter stages – with the two going head-to-head on Tuesday night.
It is not unfair to assume that the victors of the tie between England and Germany will be favourites for the last eight tie.
There is now much greater clarity on who the winners of that quarter-final will then face at the semi-final stage of the competition.
Denmark will meet Czech Republic in the quarter-final after those sides eliminated Wales and the Netherlands respectively in their Round of 16 ties.
Frank de Boer’s Netherlands won all three group games and had been highly fancied to defeat the Czechs, with their exit further opening up this half of the draw.
It is fair to assume that this half of the draw is kinder than the other half – which contains Italy, Spain, Croatia, Belgium, Portugal, France and Switzerland.