If anyone from the future had predicted a quarter-final berth for both Czech Republic and Denmark prior to the commencement of the tournament, he would have been labeled a liar. Not only because of the contrast in quality when the top nations are compared to some of the top sides who are stacked with talents in all positions but also because of the company they found themselves in the group stage ahead of the competition. Nevertheless, the football gods are without doubt on their side and their extraordinary spell is a testament to this.
The Czechs showed real signs of intent when they defied odds to progress out of a group that had the runners-up of the last World Cup held in Russia as well as a semi-finalist in the same competition. Qualifying as one of the third best-placed teams in Group D alongside England and Croatia was a top achievement in itself, especially taking into consideration the fact that they had to draw with the latter who could have easily topped the group.
This was followed by This feat was followed by another remarkable one which will, without doubt, remain in the history books for a long time. Having secured a place in the Round of 16, the end of the road seemed to be beckon for the Czechs after landing a date with another tournament favorite; the Netherlands. But the usual script was not meant to be as a red card shown to Matthijs De Ligt for denying Patrick Schick a clear goalscoring opportunity with his hand altered the course of the proceeding. Soon after, Tomas and Tomas combined to put them ahead, with Holes breaking the deadlock with an assist from Kalas against the run of play. Schick then sealed the deal with his fourth goal of the tournament.
Jaroslav Silhavy's side goes into the encounter poised by the fact that they have managed just one defeat from the four games they have featured in so far. Defeating Denmark, who have somewhat become the favorites of neutrals will not be a walk in the park but they should be up for the task considering how compact they have proved to be in the course of this camapign.
For the Danes, they are still doing it for Eriksen. Following the tragedy that met the Inter Milan man and almost marred the tournament for Kasper Hjulmand's side, they have packaged the mishap into small juice boxes of motivation and are strolling with confidence in the finales. Unlike the opponents they come up against, a second place fiinsh secured them a place in the knockout round in a group which had three teams finishing with three points apiece. In the end, their superior goal difference gave them the edge over Finland and Russia to qualify alongside Belgium.
On Friday, the winners of Denmark's group were dumped out by a resillient Italian side but that will be a feat they will look to avoid in order to continue their fairytale run. Any performance reminscent to what propelled them to a 4-0 win over Wales in the Round of 16 should be enough to secure them victory.
Predicted starting XI
Czech Republic: Vaclík; Coufal, Čelůstka, Kalas, Kadeřábek; Holeš, Souček; Masopust, Barák, Ševčík; Schick Misses next match if booked: Coufal, Hložek, Masopust
Denmark: Schmeichel; Christensen, Kjær, Vestergaard; Wass, Højbjerg, Delaney, Mæhle; Braithwaite, Dolberg, Damsgaard Misses next match if booked: Damsgaard, Delaney, Jensen, Wass
What are the coaches saying?
Jaroslav Šilhavý, Czech Republic coach: "Denmark are really strong as a team, their style is similar to ours. We have to match them in commitment and approach. One simple mistake can decide the whole match. I believe that it will be us who can take advantage of some of our opponents' mistakes. I think it will be a very tight match and the little things will decide it."
Kasper Hjulmand, Denmark coach: "I can't look anywhere without getting motivated. We're doing it for the whole of Denmark and we have two dreams: to win something and to inspire and excite. We have a framework and philosophy that we stick to but, inside that, there is also space for tactical things, positions, and the skill of the individual players. We always try to find the right framework for the players to work in and, of course, it's the same way with the Czechs."
Match details, result and original broadcast info
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