England: The English are a win against Italy away from their first semifinal since Euro 1996. Expectations went from zero to wildly irrational in about 90 minutes. They don’t have much quality on the ball, but they have a great goalkeeper in Joe Hart and Wayne Rooney who can change games if he gets his timing down. This wasn’t a perfect performance, but, for the last Redknapp partizans in the English media, it should vindicate hiring Roy Hodgson.
France: Unlike 2008 or 2010, the French advanced. The step forward, however, was a tentative one. France had a good half against Ukraine but never looked fluid or came close to harnessing their ample talent going forward. As Sweden showed today, a well served striker can expose the dumpster fire of a central defensive partnership.
Sweden: The Swedes led in all three matches. Only when it no longer counted, did they hold on to earn points. They put it in a spirited effort. Their win in the final match is nice consolation. Though, the Swedes will look back on Euro 2012 as a missed opportunity.
Ukraine: For the last time, Ukraine were not weak. The opening win on the Shevchenko brace was a great moment. They went down fighting against both England and France and perhaps were a bit unfortunate. They were well coached by Blokhin, but just not technically gifted enough to compete at this level.
[Photo via Getty]
Here’s the quarterfinal schedule…
Czech Republic vs. Portugal (A) – Thursday
Spain vs. France (A) – Saturday
Germany vs. Greece (B) – Friday
England vs. Italy (B) – Sunday