Switzerland vs Spain: Can dark horse Swiss continue heroic march?

The Swiss will kick off in Saint Petersburg Stadium in Russia at 17:00 GMT against the former champions, Spain.

Switzerland are the Euro 2020’s dark horses as they target Spain in the first quarter-final on Friday to carry on their heroic march.

The Swiss will kick off in Saint Petersburg Stadium in Russia at 17:00 GMT against the former champions, Spain, as both teams are set to vie for the semifinal ticket.

The Granit Xhaka-led Swiss national team stunned the world of football on June 28 when they beat France in the Round of 16 in Bucharest. The match at the National Arena ended 3-3 to go to extra time and then to penalties to decide the winner.

With that unexpected win, Switzerland, known as “Nati” (National team), advanced to their first ever quarter-finals in the European Championships.

France were leading the match 3-1 after midfielder Paul Pogba’s stunning long-range effort into the top corner of the Swiss goal in the 75th minute.

However, things took an unexpected turn for the French team, who were the 2016 runners-up and the 2018 World Cup champions. Vladimir Petkovic’s men fought to take the match to extra time following late goals scored by Haris Seferovic and Mario Gavranovic to eliminate Les Bleus on penalties.

Switzerland were in Group A with Italy, Wales and Turkey.

The Nati qualified for the Round of 16 after winning one game and drawing another, giving them four points in the group. They were one of the four best third-placed teams in each group.

Similar to France, Spain are one of the football heavyweights as La Furia Roja (The Red Fury) won the Euro 1964, 2008 and 2012.

Between 2008 and 2012, Spain won the 2010 World Cup title.

COVID concerns

The Euro 2020 quarter-finals coincide with renewed concern over the spread of COVID-19 in Europe, after Scottish officials linked nearly 2,000 infections to the June 18 match between England and Scotland at Wembley Stadium in London.

On Thursday, Germany’s Interior Minister Horst Seehofer condemned UEFA for allegedly pushing for larger stadium crowds, saying European football’s governing body’s position is “utterly irresponsible“.

“I cannot explain why UEFA is not being sensible …,” Seehofer said. “I suspect it is due to commercialism,” he added.

Munich’s Allianz Arena has previously allowed 14,500 fans into the venue on the condition of wearing masks, observing social distancing and showing proof of a negative coronavirus test.

In a reaction, UEFA said it is up to local authorities to determine crowd sizes and other COVID measures at every venue.

In the second quarter-final match on Friday, Belgium plays Italy in Munich at 20:00 GMT. On Saturday, the Czech Republic plays Denmark in Baku, and Ukraine and England are set to clash in Rome.

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