The European Championship quarter-finals are almost upon us and we’ve got all the relevant team and injury news ahead of the Fantasy deadline on Friday afternoon.
SWITZERLAND V SPAIN
Spain’s Jose Gayà picked up a minor knock against Croatia but Jordi Alba had been mooted to return at left-back anyway, so there is expected to be at least one change to Luis Enrique’s starting XI on Friday.
David de Gea should be fine after a thigh scare.
The suspended Granit Xhaka will miss out for the Swiss, who have seven other players who are a booking away from a one-match ban.
The yellow card count is reset after the quarter-finals.
Denis Zakaria is being touted as the likeliest candidate to replace Xhaka in the middle of the park.
BELGIUM V ITALY
Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne will both undergo last-minute fitness tests ahead of Belgium’s clash with Italy.
De Bruyne picked up an ankle issue in the win over Portugal last weekend, with Hazard pulling up with a hamstring problem in the same game.
Head coach Roberto Martinez said the pair hadn’t trained as of Thursday, adding:
They didn’t join the group this morning. They couldn’t train with the group just yet but probably that is something that we expected. It has been another 24 hours, another 24 hours that they have been positive towards their recovery.
But we all know that we are fighting against time. We are going to take until the last minute to make the decision.
Subsequent media reports suggest De Bruyne will indeed start the game, although nothing official has been confirmed.
Timothy Castagne has returned to the Belgium camp as he recovers from a broken eye socket but won’t play any part in the match or indeed the rest of the tournament.
Italian veteran Giorgi Chiellini is ready to play after injury and should be back at centre-half but Alessandro Florenzi has only just returned to training after over a fortnight out and may have to again watch on from the sidelines.
Widespread Italian media reports suggest that Federico Chiesa will get the nod over Domenico Berardi on the right flank.
CZECH REPUBLIC V DENMARK
Denmark’s Yusuf Poulsen hopes to be able to play some part in Saturday’s quarter-final with the Czech Republic, although also told reporters that he would not be fit enough to last 90 minutes.
Simon Kjaer and Daniel Wass are also expected to be involved, with head coach Kasper Hjulmand saying after the win over Wales:
We will get a status report on Simon Kjær but I think it would take a lot to hold him back and keep him out of the match on Saturday. And Wass is recovering.
Kjaer has since trained, although has dipped in and out for sessions.
Wass added on his own recovery:
I have had a sore throat and a fever, so I haven’t played, but I’m better now. I should be [ready for the quarter final]. Fortunately, it’s a good thing that we have a long week ahead, so I have a couple of days to get back to 100 per cent.
Andreas Cornelius picked up a knock in training after a clash with Zanka but should recover.
Czech coach Jaroslav Šilhavý had a full complement of players available at Thursday’s training session, with captain Vladimir Darida – who missed the game against Netherlands due to an injury – also present.
Jan Boril is also available after serving a suspension in the round of 16.
UKRAINE V ENGLAND
Gareth Southgate had all 26 squad members involved in the final training session before Saturday’s quarter-final against Ukraine.
The main decision for the England boss may well be over starting formation, with a wing-back system preferred for the win over Germany.
Southgate is sticking to his guns with the more cautious approach, regardless of team selection:
In big matches, statistics tell you that defences are often critical. You saw that in the Champions League final, you’ve seen that in tournaments of the past.
We are looking really deeply at tactical things and I know that will sometimes frustrate supporters, when for example the team are not playing forward.
We are trying to be that team that has patience to retain the ball. I played for England for years where we kept giving the ball away, and we had to chase in the heat. It was a big problem.
And I think our players showed great resilience [at Wembley on Tuesday] to be mature enough to block out those groans when you don’t go forward, and be brave enough to pick those moments.
I think there are times when we can play forward a bit earlier, but also retaining the ball at other times in the game and making the opposition run, and giving yourself a breather defensively is really important.
Ukraine’s Artem Besedin will miss the remainder of the tournament after picking up a serious knee injury in the win over Sweden.
Oleksandr Zubkov hasn’t been seen since Matchday 1, meanwhile.
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