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“England will never, ever have a better opportunity to win the Euros.”
This was the round – where England knew they would have to play the runners-up of the group containing France, Germany, Portugal and Hungary – that was was seen by many as the major obstacle for Gareth Southgate’s side en route to a potential final.
In fact, going into their last group game against the Czech Republic, there were suggestions England would be better off finishing as runners-up and entering the other side of the draw.
But with Germany eliminated and the Netherlands too, England are now clear favourites to reach the final.
“If you could have picked something like that draw then you would have,” Shearer said on BBC One. “We’ve beaten Germany and we’ve done it in an impressive way.
“The draw is decent I would say. They’re at Wembley – I know they go away for the next game – but if they’re lucky enough to get to a final that would have been six games at Wembley and you can’t ask for any more than that with an atmosphere like this.”
The other half of the draw, the one which England have avoided, contains Belgium, the world’s number one ranked team, and two more of the top seven in Spain and Italy.
No-one in England’s half is ranked above them. Denmark (10th) are the only other side in the top 10 with Ukraine next in 24th.
Rio Ferdinand was equally upbeat, adding: “There’s nobody left that England will fear. They’ll all be tough but everyone in this draw, England will feel comfortable they will beat.”
So while England’s route looks appealing on paper, how are their potential opponents shaping up and what is the record of Southgate’s men against them?
Who will England face in the quarter-finals?
- World ranking – 24
- Odds of winning the tournament – 80/1
- Best finish at the Euros – group stages (2012 & 2016)
- Last three games against England – Drew 0-0 (2013), Drew 1-1 (2012), Lost 0-1 (2012)
- England’s chances of beating them – 70%
Ukraine reached their first quarter-final of a major tournament since 2006 thanks to a last-gasp winner in extra time against Sweden.
Artem Dovbyk was the hero, heading in from close range in the 121st minute against a Sweden team who had impressed in the tournament, topping a group that included Spain, Poland and Slovakia.
Ukraine began the finals on the wrong side of a thrilling 3-2 loss to the Netherlands. But they turned their form around to edge past North Macedonia 2-1 before a 1-0 defeat against Austria.
It meant Andriy Shevchenko’s team claimed the final third-placed qualification spot and a last-16 meeting with Sweden, a side ranked just six places above them.
Now they face England for a place in the semi-finals, a team they have beaten once in seven attempts, a 1-0 World Cup qualifying success in 2009.
They were beaten by the Three Lions 1-0 in the group stage of the 2012 tournament through a second-half strike from Wayne Rooney.
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Who could England face in the semi-finals?
- World ranking – 40
- Odds of winning the tournament – 25/1
- Best finish at the Euros – winners 1976 (as Czechoslovakia)
- Last three games against England – Lost 0-1 (2021), Won 2-1 (2019), Lost 0-5 (2019)
- England’s chances of beating them – 75%
The Czech Republic pulled off one of the shocks by defeating the Netherlands 2-0 to book their place in the last eight.
They silenced those in orange at the Puskas Arena in Budapest thanks to goals from Tomas Holes and Patrik Schick, who has now scored four times.
The Czechs have already faced England this summer, losing 1-0 in the group stage as they finished third in Group D.
Should they beat Denmark in the quarters, a side they beat 3-0 in the last eight of Euro 2004, they could be facing the Three Lions in the last four at Wembley.
And the Czechs have fond memories of semi-finals in England, having beating France on penalties at Euro 1996 before losing to Germany in the final.
- World ranking – 10
- Odds of winning the tournament – 10/1
- Best finish at the Euros – winners 1992
- Last three games against England – Won 1-0 (2020), Drew 0-0 (2020), Lost 0-1 (2014)
- England’s chances of beating them – 67%
Denmark have already defeated one home nation, thrashing Wales 4-0 at the last 16.
The Danes have shown admirable resolve to reach this stage, responding brilliantly after the trauma of midfielder Christian Eriksen’s on-pitch cardiac arrest during their opening defeat by Finland.
The 1992 winners were sensational in their 4-1 victory against Russia in their final group match, finishing runners-up in Group B despite also losing to Belgium.
The Danes will fancy their chances if they beat the Czech Republic and set up a showdown with England, with one win and a draw against them in last year’s Nations League.
Who could England face in the final?
If England reach their first European Championship final they will be roared on by at least 60,000 supporters at Wembley.
Home advantage is having an impact at this tournament, according to sports data analysts Gracenote.
Of England’s possible final opponents, they would be favourites against all of them – except Belgium.
England would still have a 48% chance of winning that game though.
Against Switzerland that figure would be 70%, while it would be 61% against Spain and 57% if they were to face Italy.