Football: Spain and Germany do battle for Euro supremacy

Spain and Germany, the two most successful European Championship nations, and among the most impressive sides at Euro 2024, are coming face to face in the quarter-finals.

Although they have each won three Euro titles, more than any other nation, and have played more games at the European Championship than any other teams, the match – at 4am on Saturday (NZ time) – will only be their fourth meeting at the finals.

The first came in France in 1984, when West Germany were defending champions and drawn in a group with Spain, Portugal and Romania.

They met in the last game, with the Germans top on three points (two points were awarded for a win) while Spain and Portugal had two each.

Spain spurned a great opportunity in the first half when Lobo Carrasco’s poor penalty was easily saved by Harald Schumacher, but with time running out Antonio Maceda’s 90th-minute header put Spain through and sent the Germans home.

West Germany had their revenge four years later on home soil, however, when the sides were drawn in a group with Italy and Denmark and again they met in the final game with the Germans top of the standings.

Spain needed victory to progress, but in Munich they were no match for the hosts and Franz Beckenbauer’s side secured a comfortable 2-0 win thanks to a brace from Rudi Voeller.

The German failed to win the title, however, losing to the Netherlands in the semis, and Spain and Germany did not meet again at the tournament until Euro 2008 in Austria and Switzerland.

Spain had won one title, when they hosted the finals in 1964, while Germany had three in the bag, and they clashed in the final for the first time.

Fernando Torres scored the only goal as Spain clinched their second title – their first major tournament win in over 40 years starting a period of Spanish dominance in football.

They became the first team to retain the European Championship four years later and won their first World Cup trophy in 2010, beating Germany in the semis along the way.

The game has the feel of an early final with Spain arguably the most exciting team of the tournament, and the only one to win all four games, while hosts Germany have impressed more than other pre-tournament favourites.

The winners will be well on course for a record fourth crown.

Spain's players celebrate after the win over Italy at Euro 2024.

Spain v Germany: Saturday 4am (NZ time), Stuttgart

This will be a quarter-final meeting between the two most successful nations in Euros history with three titles each and aiming to become the outright leader on that list this year.

Germany will have home support at Stuttgart Arena, but that will not worry a Spanish side that plays on the front foot.

Germany (10) and Spain (9) are the top two scorers at Euro 2024 and the two leading sides when it comes to passing accuracy with Germany at 92.2 percent and Spain on 91 percent.

The Spanish are the only team with a 100 percent record at the finals so far and have also had more goal attempts (84) than any other side.

Spain beat Germany 6-0 in the Nations League in 2020, but their most recent meeting in the World Cup group stage in Qatar ended 1-1.

Portugal v France: Saturday 7am, Hamburg

This match will be a repeat of the Euro 2016 final in Paris when Portugal stunned the hosts to win 1-0 thanks to an extra-time goal from striker Eder.

Neither team have been convincing at the tournament to date despite the array of talent at their disposal, but they have potential match-winners who only need an instant to find a decisive moment.

France have conceded one goal in over six hours of football in Germany, from a penalty, and of their three goals scored one was a Kylian Mbappe spot kick and two were own goals.

Portugal continue to funnel much of their attacking play through 39-year-old Cristiano Ronaldo, who has had more attempts at goal in the tournament (20) than any other player, but is yet to find the back of the net.

The teams last met in the group phase at Euro 2020 and played out a 2-2 draw.

France will be without suspended midfielder Adrien Rabiot, who had started every game for them in the tournament so far.

England v Switzerland: Sunday 4am, Dusseldorf

England were seconds away from elimination before a 95th minute Jude Bellingham overhead kick rescued them against Slovakia in the last-16 while, by contrast, Switzerland cruised past defending champions Italy with a comfortable 2-0 win.

The Swiss have won only three of their 27 past meetings with England, the last a 2-1 success in Basel in 1981.

Despite England’s below-par performances in Germany, they are unbeaten in their last 11 Euros matches, winning seven, and last tasted defeat against Iceland in 2016.

But they have a 50 percent win record from six previous quarter-finals, losing two of the last three on penalties. Switzerland’s only previous quarter-final was at Euro 2020 where they lost on penalties to Spain.

England are without suspended centre back Marc Guehi.

Netherlands v Turkey: Saturday 7am, Berlin

Netherlands saved their best performance of the tournament so far for the comprehensive 3-0 win over Romania in the round of 16, while Turkey edged Austria 2-1 and have been among the most entertaining teams to watch in Germany.

These two sides are fifth and six on the list of most chances created at the finals, with Netherlands amassing 63 and Turkey 56, and both have netted seven times, the joint third most of all teams.

They most recently met in the 2022 World Cup qualifiers with 13 goals scored in the two games. Netherlands won 6-1 at home and Turkey triumphed 4-2 in Istanbul.

Turkey will be without two players through suspension, midfielders Ismail Yuksek and Orkun Kokcu, who was born in the Netherlands.


According to the news on Radio New Zealand

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