With the European Championships on the cusp of entering the knockout stages, teams are sizing up their potential opponents. Though it is still early to call the exact team by name, managers do have a fair idea of who is going to be their opponents. In that regard, FootTheBall takes you through the potential route to the final for England in this tournament.
England are currently holding second place in Group D, behind the Czech Republic. Those two face off against each other on matchday three to determine the final rankings. Here the potential opponents for England in the next round, in order of where they were to finish.
ROUND OF 16
If England win Group D, they will face the runners-up of Group F which is almost certainly going to be one of France, Germany or Portugal. Gareth Southgate will have to set up in different manners for each side, with France known for their explosive threat up top through Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezman.
— Equipe de France ⭐⭐ (@equipedefrance) June 19, 2021
Germany roared back into the tournament with four goals against Portugal, which would have given them a lot of confidence. For the Selecao, the eternal threat of Ronaldo is a headache, along with a multitude of other talents. None of them will be easy to face up with and that is why many in England have been clamouring for…
If England finishes as runners-up, they will face the runners-up of Group E. This could be any of the four teams from Sweden, Spain, Slovakia, and Poland (in the current standings). The Swedes have shown surprising mettle in their matches, while Spain have been rather blunt and non-threatening in attack. Slovakia and Poland are no pushovers on their day but they will definitely be easier propositions than the ones in match 1.
In the unlikely event of England finishing third, they will progress due to their four points already. This scenario also has some tough choices in the shape of either Belgium, Netherlands, or the winner from Group E. The Red Devils and Oranje both have perfect records from the group stages, boasting attack-heavy squads and renowned creative talents. The winner of Group E might be the one English fans will want if it does come to this unfavoured situation.
FROM ROUTE 1
England will likely face either the remaining team from Group E or one of the four third-placed teams from Groups A, B, C or D. The latter options do provide a bit of an easier route as none of Switzerland, Finland, Ukraine, Croatia or Scotland have looked too threatening yet. The Swiss picked up a huge win against Turkey, who were luckless. The Finns and Ukraine are on three points and may not even make it.
Either way, they do not have the capacity to compete with the richness in the English squad. Croatia or Scotland might be the only able opponents, and Southgate will want to avoid both. The Croats defeated them painfully in 2018 while the Tartans have held the Three Lions to a solid 0-0 draw in the group stage already.
FROM ROUTE 2
England are likely to face one of the “big three” from Group F or one of the third-placed sides from Groups A, B, C or D. Of course, the main challenge will be posed by the former and their superior pool of players rather than the latter opponents. One of the enticing things could possibly be a repeat of England vs Scotland, which is surely a rivalry to savour. However, this path will be tougher than the previous route for sure.
FROM ROUTE 3
England have the possibility of facing either the winner from Wales vs Denmark or Italy vs Austria. The four will pose different kinds of challenges for the Three Lions. Wales are heavily reliant on their star names in Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey with a not-so-robust defence. Denmark are solid in both departments but can be overcome based on the class of the English players.
Enjoy what you do.😁Getting ready for the next game.💪🏽 pic.twitter.com/VjmkOL5fWc
— Jude Bellingham (@BellinghamJude) June 20, 2021
Italy have been on a hot streak, winning all three of their group games while conceding none. They are one of the stronger sides in the competition and are fanciful of defeating anyone in their path. Austria will be an easier possibility, given their relative inexperience at this stage and lack of established stars.
It is here where England’s potential opponents become more varied. Depending on which path they take based on their final group ranking, there is a litany of opponents to choose from. On paper, the easiest will be if one of the third-placed teams make it till here. One of Switzerland, Finland or Ukraine.
Looking forward to tomorrow. Big game to top the group. 🏴🦁🦁🦁 pic.twitter.com/UjmJw707n0
— Harry Kane (@HKane) June 21, 2021
Among the heavyweights, the most likely choices are again one of France, Germany, Portugal, Belgium or Netherlands. These will become more clear as final rankings are known, but one thing’s for certain. This will be a real tough test to overcome for Southgate’s side and if history is anything to go by, the stage which they need to fear the most.
If England are able to make the final for the first time since…a really, really long time- it will be a lip-smacking showdown. The chances of a surprise team are really light which means two big names will be going at it.
It will be one of the top names in the game, whether it be Italy, Belgium, Portugal, France, Germany, or Netherlands. Southgate and co. know that this year is one of the best chances to finally bring football home, and their work to get there starts with a win against the Czech Republic tonight.