Czech Republic beat 10-man Netherlands 2-0 in the last-16 and Denmark thrashed Wales 4-0 to qualify for the quarter-finals.
Czech Republic will take on Denmark at Baku Olympic stadium on Saturday for a place in the semi-finals of Euro 2020. Both teams qualified for the last 8 courtesy of convincing victories in the round of 16. Czech Republic beat 10-man Netherlands 2-0 whereas Denmark thrashed Wales 4-0. Czech Republic finished runner-ups in 1996 and reached the semi-finals in 2004 and exited at the group stage in Euro 2016. Meanwhile the Red and Whites won the tournament in 1992 and their previous quarter-final appearance was in 2004. The Danes failed to qualify for the competition in 2008 and 2016 and exited at the group stage in 2012. (Fixtures and results)
The Czech’s had an impressive start to the competition. They beat Scotland 2-0 on June 14 before earning a draw against Croatia. After the first two matches itself they were in a comfortable position to qualify for the next round. Therefore despite losing the final group fixture 1-0 to England they booked their place in the round of 16 as one of the best four third placed teams. The Czechs finished behind group leaders England and Croatia in Group D.
In the Euro 2020 last-16 match, Noradak defeated the Dutch courtesy of goals from Tomas Holes and Patrik Schik. The match was evenly poised until the red card to Dutch defender Matthijs de Ligt changed the complexion of the game.
Meanwhile Denmark lost their opening match 1-0 to Finland. The game at Parken was marred by the incident of Danish midfielder Christian Eriksen collapsing on the field. In the second group fixture the Danes lost 2-1 to Belgium. However in the final group match they thrashed Russia 4-1 to book a place in the round of 16. They finished ahead of Finland on goal difference and behind group winners Belgium from Group B.
Czech boss Jaroslav Silhavy will have left-back Jan Boril coming back from suspension. Therefore, don’t be surprised if he starts ahead of Pavel Kaderabek on Saturday. The rest of the back four is likely to remain unchanged. Vladimir Coufal will play at right-back with Tomas Kalas and Ondrej Celustka occupying the central defence in front of goalkeeper Tomas Vaclik.
Holes and Tomas Soucek are certainties at the midfield with the latter playing a slightly advanced role. The West Ham player is a tall figure who has good aerial strength and likes to get into the penalty box whenever possible.
Lukas Masupust is going to be one of the winger meanwhile Silhavy will have to take a decision on the other two midfielders- Antonin Barak and Petr Sevcik, who started in the previous game. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Barak and Sevcik start ahead of Vladimir Darida and Jakub Jankto because of their impressive performance against the Dutch. Meanwhile Schik is going to be the lone striker up front. The 26-year-old striker has already scored four goals in the tournament so far.
On the other hand, Denmark head coach Kasper Hjulmand also has some big decisions to make. Yussuf Poulsen, Daniel Wass and Simon Kjaer are all expected to be available following fitness issues. Central defender Kjaer had to be substituted in the second half of the previous game because of injury. Meanwhile Poulsen and Wass weren’t available.
Therefore Hjulmand will have to make a decision whether to start with Kasper Dolberg or Poulsen up front. Dolberg scored two goals in the previous match and therefore is likely to keep his place in the starting eleven. And Wass is likely to start ahead of Jens Larsen in the right-wing back position.
Kasper Schmeichel is going to occupy the goal with three central defenders- Jannik Vestergaard, Kjaer and Andreas Christensen in front of him. Last match’s goal scorer Joakim Maehle will play at the left-wing-back. Pierre Emile-Hojberg and Thomas Delaney are certainties in the middle of the park. Martin Braithwaite and Mikkel Damsgaard will provide support to Dolberg up front.
The Czechs play a more direct football, supplying the ball quickly to their main marksman Schik up front. The Bayern Leverkusen player has the physical prowess to hold the ball and make others play around him. Meanwhile Czech Republic is a dangerous team when it comes to set pieces because they have tall players in their ranks.
Denmark play more of a passing game, delivering penetrating ball from the midfield and trying to play their way through the opponents defence. The likes of Braithwaite, Damsgaard and Dolberg have enough pace to dribble past the opposition defence. Emile-Hojberg is a crucial player for the Danes in the middle of the park as his ability to dictate the play and deliver quality balls to the forward is crucial for them.
In the 25 previous meetings the Czechs have lost only twice and in the last six meetings five have finished in a draw. It’s going to be a battle of equals at Azerbaijan and the winner will take on either England or Ukraine in the Euro 2020 semis.