EURO 2020 QUARTERS: SPAIN FACE SWITZERLAND, BELGIUM TAKE ON ITALY - The Daily Guardian
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EURO 2020 QUARTERS: SPAIN FACE SWITZERLAND, BELGIUM TAKE ON ITALY

The quarterfinals will kick off today, with Spain meeting Switzerland, and Belgium fighting Italy. On Saturday, Czech Republic and Denmark clash, before Ukraine face England.

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The much awaited Euro 2021 kicked off at the Stadio Olimpico, Rome, on 11 June as the tournament this year has been spread over 11 European countries. There has been a goal scoring spree this year, in 44 matches a total of 123 goals have been scored at an average of 2.8 goals per match. Eight teams will compete in Quarterfinals commencing from today.  

Haris Seferovi of SwitzerlandCiro Immobile of ItalySergio Busquets of Spain

The first match of the quarterfinal will be hosted at the Krestovsky Stadium, in Saint Petersburg. The opening match in the round of 8 will be between Switzerland and 2010 FIFA World Cup Champions Spain.

Switzerland recorded their first win at a knockout tournament since the 1938 FIFA World Cup when they shocked the fancied World Champions France in the round out 16 during the penalty shoot-out. Their form in the tournament has been a steady and disciplined one as they qualified for the pre quarter finals as one of the top four 3rd placed teams from the group stages where they drew 1-1 with Wales in their opening game, lost 0-3 to former World Champions Italy and trounced Turkey 3-1. With 4 points and 4 goals scored as compared to the 5 goals conceded, the Swiss were placed third behind Wales on goal average, while Italy topped Pool A. Their attack is spearheaded by Haris Seferović who plays for Portuguese club Benfica who scored a brace against France beating Hugo Lloris and finding the opposition net against Turkey in their pool matches. Breel Embolo will be another attacking player as the Borussia Mönchengladbach forward will be joined by the Liverpool pocket dynamite Xherdan Shaqiri who has two goals to his tally in this tournament. The only matter of worry for their coach Vladimir Petković will be the absence of their hardworking midfield dynamo and Captain Granit Xhaka who will be out due to suspension. There is a strong possibility that Denis Zakaria could take his place in the midfield and will have the task to check the Spanish skipper Sergio Busquets whose experience and presence has revitalized the Las Rojas. Manuel Akanji will have to marshal the Swiss defence against Spain who have proved that they can run riot in opposition penalty area with their pin point crosses from either flanks.

Spain is the team that grabbed the attention of one and all in the Euros this year. A team that took its time to find its stride, the Los Rojas have reaped the largest goal harvest in the tournament so far. After being held to a goalless draw against Sweden and 1-1 draw against Poland, many football pundits had thought Louis Enreque’s young Spanish armada was all set to sink, especially the fact that there was not one player from the famed Real Madrid team in this squad. The return of Sergio Busquets after Covid 19 proved to be the turning point for the squad as Spain decimated Slovakia 5-0 and outclassed a resilient Croatia in the round of 16 with the scoreboard reading 5-3 in favour of the Red Brigade.

The second quarter final match in the wee hours of tonight will be another cracker of a match featuring former World Champions Italy locking horns with the FIFA’s Number One Ranked Team in the world Belgium.

Both the sides have displayed flair, talent and a tenacious appetite for winning in this Euro Championship. Where Italy have fielded a team for the future and have been successful in wreaking havoc on their opposition, Belgium on the other hand is a team that has been expected to win major silverware for some time now. Many expect this to be Belgium’s golden generation of players who have played pivotal roles in their clubs winning big prizes at the big stage of professional football across the world.

Italy were Champions of the world four times in 1934, 1938, 1982, 2006 and later went on to win the Crown of Europe in 1968 when they hosted the mega quadrennial continental championship. Roberto Manchini has changed the way this Italian team plays its football. Italy has impressed everyone from their first game where they dismantled Turkey with the scoreline reading 3-0 and went on to win with an identical score against Switzerland. In their last group match they defeated Wales by a solitary goal to top Pool A and march into the round of 16. Italy had to dig deep into extra time to thwart a resolute Austria 2-1. Italy’s strength form a dynamic midfield and a tantalizing young attackline that have been working overtime to close down and high press their opposition inside the opposition half. Lazio striker Ciro Immobile, Atlanta Midfielder Matteo Pessina and Sassuolo’s  Manuel Locatelli have been consistent scorers for the Azzuris firing in 2 goals each.

While there is no surprise in finding Belgium in the Quarter Finals, it would be also creditable for Roberto Martínez’s men to defeat the defending Champions Portugal and break a million hearts with Christiano Ronaldo’s exit from this Euro Championship as the highest goal scorer till date not merely in this tournament but in European history.

Belgium have one of the most dependable line-ups in the world and their run up the quarterfinals has been almost clockwork execution with the right mix of both individual brilliance and a clinical team performance. Like Italy, they were also the top team in Pool B and scored an impressive 7 goals in their group matches and conceded only once against Denmark. In their opening tie they routed Russia 3-0 at Saint Petersburg, then they outdid Denmark 2-1 before recording a 2-0 win over Poland and marching into the Round of 16 and asking Portugal to pack their bags. While the Belgium boasts of Inter Milan’s powerful Romelu Lukaku as their talismanic striker who already has 3 goals in this edition of the Euros, Thorgan Hazard of Borussia Dortmund has fired in two key goals, their Midfield general and Captain Kevin De Bruyne of Manchester City and Borussia Dortmund’s Thomas Meunier have scored once for their team.  Italy have the advantage as they lock horns with Belgium at Munich’s Allianz Arena with neither team letting their guard down.

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Olympics: Deepika Kumari bows out after losing to top-seed An San

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Star Indian archer Deepika Kumari bowed out of the ongoing Tokyo Olympics after losing to South Korea’s An San in the women’s individual quarter-finals here at Yumenoshima Park on Friday.

Top seed San defeated world number one Deepika in an absolutely dominating fashion 6-0 to march into the semi-finals of the individual event. 20-year-old San is aiming for her third gold medal at Tokyo after finishing top of the podium in the mixed team event and the women’s recurve team event. Korean An San had a brilliant start to the first round as she aimed at three 10s while Deepika shot 7-10-10. San carried that momentum in the second round and clinically shot 9-10-7 to which Indian responded with 10-7-7.

The dominance of the South Korean continued in the third set as she gathered 26 as opposed to 24 of Deepika. Match ended in less than six minutes. With this San will either face USA’s Mackenzie Brown or Mexico’s Alejandra Valencia in the last four.

Earlier in the day, Deepika defeated Russian Olympic Committee’s (ROC) Ksenia Perova to progress into the quarter-finals (6-5) in the 1/8 Eliminations round in the ongoing Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

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YUZVENDRA CHAHAL AND GOWTHAM TEST POSITIVE IN SRI LANKA

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Three days after Krunal Pandya tested positive for COVID-19, it has come to light that spinners Yuzvendra Chahal and K. Gowtham have also tested positive for the virus in Sri Lanka.

Sources in the know of developments confirmed that the duo have tested positive for COVID-19. “Unfortunately, they have tested positive. They were close contacts of Krunal and were already away from the rest of the squad in the team hotel,” the source said. Krunal Pandya tested positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday and eight Indian players — Prithvi Shaw, Suryakumar Yadav, Hardik Pandya, Yuzvendra Chahal, Deepak Chahar, Manish Pandey, Ishan Kishan, and K Gowtham were identified as close contacts.

Being close contacts of Krunal, they were staying away from the rest of the team and didn’t participate in the last two T20Is after Krunal’s test came positive.

Meanwhile, Wanindu Hasaranga’s four-wicket haul and Dhananjaya de Silva’s unbeaten 23-run knock helped Sri Lanka defeat India by seven wickets in the third and final T20I. With this win, Sri Lanka won the series 2-1.Sri Lanka won the T20I series while India had earlier won the ODI series.

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TOKYO OLYMPICS: NUMBER ONE SEED DJOKOVIC BOWS OUT, LOSES TO ZVEREV

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Number one seed Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic on Friday was knocked out of the men’s singles event in the ongoing Tokyo Olympics after losing the semi-final clash. Germany’s Alexander Zverev defeated Djokovic 1-6, 6-3, 6-1 in the men’s singles event.

As a result of this loss, Djokovic would not be able to achieve the Golden Slam (all four Grand Slams and Olympic gold) in the same year. Djokovic had brought out his A-game to the court in the first set, and he ended up winning it 6-1. However, disappointment followed for the Serbian as he lost two back-to-back sets and as a result, he bowed out of the tournament.

Djokovic had won the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon this year and now he would look to win the US Open, beginning August this year. Earlier, top seeds Ashleigh Barty and Naomi Osaka were also knocked out of the Olympics.

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INDIA WOMEN’S HOCKEY TEAM BEAT IRELAND 1-0, KEEP QF HOPES ALIVE

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The Indian women’s hockey team defeated Ireland 1-0 here at the Oi Hockey Stadium North Pitch on Friday. As a result, India’s hopes of making it to the quarter-finals of the women’s hockey event remain intact.

Earlier, the Rani Rampal-led side had suffered defeats in its first three group-stage games. The first quarter between India and Ireland saw no goals and after the end of the first 15 minutes, the scoreline remained 0-0.

A similar story was on the offer in the second quarter and at the halftime mark, the scoreline remained the same and it was Rani Rampal’s side that was feeling the pressure going into the third quarter. The third quarter also saw no goals, however, Navneet Kaur finally broke the deadlock in the fourth quarter and she gave India a lead with three minutes left to play. In the end, India managed to hang on to the advantage to score a 1-0 victory.

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INDIA MEN’S HOCKEY TEAM FIRE ALL CYLINDERS, DEFEAT JAPAN 5-3

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A resilient Indian hockey team came firing on all cylinders to thrash Japan 5-3 in the ongoing Tokyo Olympics on Friday. This was India’s fourth win of the ongoing quadrennial event. The Men In Blue will next be in action in the quarter-finals of the mega event. Japan might have scored three goals but the Indian boys made sure the Men in Blue were in the lead throughout the game and dominated proceedings.

Just two minutes before the end of the third quarter, India earned their second Penalty Corner only to miss the net. But the Indians were in the lead (3-2) with one quarter to go. Both teams got off to a cautious start but the Manpreet Singh-led side broke the shackles and netted the first goal in the 13th minute.

Gurjant Singh then scored early in the second quarter as India doubled the lead over Japan. However, Japan came back with a goal as Tanaka opened the team’s account.

In the third quarter, Kota Watanabe scored an equaliser but Shamsher Singh again put India on top as he scored a goal in the 34th minute. At the end of the third essay, India led 3-2 with a thrilling final quarter on cards. In the final quarter, Nilakanta Sharma doubled India’s lead after a desperate attempt from both sides to find the net.

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TOKYO OLYMPICS: SINDHU DEFEATS YAMAGUCHI, GETS INTO SEMIS

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India shuttler P.V. Sindhu stormed into the semi-finals of the women’s singles event after defeating Japan’s number four seed Akane Yamaguchi in the quarterfinals here at the Musashino Forest Plaza Court 1 on Friday. Sindhu defeated Yamaguchi 21-13, 22-20. The quarterfinal clash between Sindhu and Yamaguchi lasted for 56 minutes.

The first game was more close than the scoreline suggested and Sindhu had to bring out the best in her to win it 21-13. The scoreline in the first game might not indicate how closely it was fought, but Yamaguchi made her fight for every point. The star Indian shuttler was just one more game away from progressing to the semi-finals.

Yamaguchi made Sindhu toil hard in the second game, and for every point, the Indian shuttler had to be at her best. In the end, the number six seed Sindhu ended up winning the match in straight games.

In the second game of the quarter-final, there was a 54-shot rally between Sindhu and Yamaguchi and it lasted for one minute and two seconds. On Thursday, Sindhu had defeated Denmark’s Mia Blichfeldt in the Round of 16 match of women’s individual event in the Tokyo Olympics here at the Musashino Forest Plaza Court 3. Sindhu defeated Blichfeldt 21-15, 21-13 in just 41 minutes to cruise into the quarter-finals.

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