football

Euro 2020 power rankings: England go top after Ukraine rout


1) England (up 1)

Gareth Southgate’s team moved into the semi-finals with an almost complete performance against Ukraine. Not only were they solid in defence, recording their fifth consecutive clean sheet, but the inclusion of Jadon Sancho in the attacking midfield three behind Harry Kane added another dimension to their forward play. Raheem Sterling was again sublime, including the assist for Kane’s first goal, while the Tottenham striker has now netted three times in two matches after a rocky start to the tournament. England face Denmark at Wembley in the semi-finals on Wednesday believing they can go all the way.

2) Italy (up 1)

The one criticism that had been levelled against Italy during their incredible 32-match unbeaten run was that they had not beaten a team in the top 15 of the Fifa world rankings. Yes, it was a flaky one – you can only beat what is put in front of you – but it does not matter now after gli Azzurri’s 2-1 win over Belgium on Friday. Roberto Mancini’s side were electric at times in attack and solid at the back and the only sour note on the night was a serious injury suffered by their marauding left-back Leonardo Spinazzola, who ruptured his achilles. “The team has progressed game in, game out,” a pleased Mancini said. “Even when there have been difficult matches, the team has always got better – and there is still room for improvement.” Ominous.

3) Denmark (up 2)

The fairytale continues. Kasper Hjulmand’s side deserved their 2-1 win against Czech Republic even though the second half was a slog. In the first 45 minutes the Danes were creative, energetic and effervescent. They could have been 4-0 up by half-time but in the end they had to settle for two goals, a header from Thomas Delaney and a poacher’s finish from Kasper Dolberg after a sumptuous outside-of-the-boot cross from Joakim Mæhle. Praise too must go to Hjulmand, who responded to the Czechs gaining the initiative in the second half by making a double substitution in the 59th minute to regain control in the midfield area.

4) Spain (-)

And suddenly, they were in the semi-finals. Somehow. Luis Enrique’s team did not impress in their win against Switzerland, coming after penalties, but they won’t complain. This slightly odd Spain team, without any Real Madrid players, and without any real stars, are in the last-four phase of a tournament for the first time since they won the Euros in 2012. Against Switzerland they played with a man more for 42 minutes without creating too many chances. “This is a euphoric moment,” said the goalkeeper Unai Simón, who made that horrible mistake against Croatia. “I got very excited, very emotional, all that fury, all that desire. Something inside me wanted this.”

5) Belgium (down 4)

The end of an era? Of a golden generation? Maybe not quite but there will be agonising soul-searching at the Belgian FA after this latest failure to go all the way. They gave their all against Italy and, perhaps, with Eden Hazard on the pitch and a fully fit Kevin De Bruyne they could have done it. As it was, they fell short on a frantic night in Munich. The defence – with Thomas Vermaelen, Jan Verthongen and Toby Alderweireld – will have to be renewed but with the World Cup only 18 months away maybe there won’t be wholesale changes. The scintillating performance of the 19-year-old Jérémy Doku will give Belgium fans hope as they try to regroup.

Belgium’s Jérémy Doku holds off a challenge of Italy’s Giovanni Di Lorenzo.
Belgium’s Jérémy Doku holds off a challenge of Italy’s Giovanni Di Lorenzo. Photograph: Philipp Guelland/AP

6) Switzerland (-)

In the end there wasn’t to be another upset. Switzerland once again forced a European super power into extra-time and penalties but, unlike against France, they fluffed their lines against Spain, missing three of their four spot kicks. They were impressive again, though, despite losing Breel Embolo early to an injury and recovered from going a goal behind to score a fine equaliser by Xherdan Shaqiri. Their threat as an attacking force, however, ended the moment Remo Freuler was harshly sent off in the 77th minute. The coach, Vladimir Petkovic, was right when he labelled his players “heroes” after the game. Switzerland have had a very good tournament.

7) Czech Republic (-)

One good half against Denmark was not enough and the Czechs went out after a 2-1 defeat in Baku. They came out a different team in the second half, 2-0 down, and Jaroslav Silhavy’s substitutions worked wonders to begin with but after Patrik Schick had scored his fifth goal of the tournament they struggled to create clear-cut chances against a compact Danish defence. The goalkeeper Tomas Vaclik, who again made several important saves, said he was proud of what he and his teammates had achieved this summer. “Nobody believed in us but we stuck together,” he told uefa.com. “There is a strong team spirit. We have something special in this group. With the passing of time, I think we will only find positives from this tournament.”

Czech Republic’s goalkeeper Tomas Vaclik clears the ball away from challenge from Denmark’s Mikkel Damsgaard.
The Czech Republic’s goalkeeper Tomas Vaclik clears the ball away from challenge from Denmark’s Mikkel Damsgaard. Photograph: Darko Vojinović/AP

8) Ukraine (-)

The game against England proved one step too far for Andriy Shevchenko’s team. They had a gameplan, similar to the one that had been so successful against Sweden, but were undone within four minutes as Harry Kane raced into the box, fairly unchallenged, to score. An injury to Serhiy Kryvtsov meant a switch in formation for Ukraine, to what looked like a back four, and they enjoyed their best spell of the game before the break. However, the game ended as a contest when Harry Maguire scored with a header. Ukraine have made their country proud by reaching the last eight. Now they must sweat on whether Shevchenko stays or moves into club football.



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