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Lots Of Goals, Upsets And A Penalty Shootout: Euro 2020 Is Just Heating Up

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Soccer fans can finally get some work done today. It's an off day for the Euro 2020, Europe's soccer championship; a day for players and also fans to recover from the drama of this year's tournament.

(SOUNDBITE OF MONTAGE)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: And now Harry Kane breaks his European duck. And England are in dreamland.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: It is sheer Swiss delight. They've knocked the world champions out.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #3: It's a Spanish fiesta now.

SHAPIRO: Let's catch up on the madness and look forward to the quarterfinals of the European soccer cup with CBS Sports' Luis Miguel Echegaray.

Welcome back to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED.

LUIS MIGUEL ECHEGARAY: Ari, thank you so much.

SHAPIRO: So as we heard in those clips, fans saw some upsets in the first round. What storylines have stood out to you so far?

ECHEGARAY: So many. It's been such an intriguing, interesting, almost surprising tournament. Of course with France, the champions, bowing out - has to be at the top of the list. I had them as favorites. I said that when I was here with you guys earlier in the month. But Switzerland performed a heroic act. The other one - because I'm Peruvian, but I grew up in England - England a soft spot in my heart - England beating Germany for the first time in a major tournament in a knockout setup for the first time, Ari, since the 1966 World Cup final. It's been a long time coming.

SHAPIRO: And that last round had so many goals - I think 29. Do you think we can expect that kind of scoring to keep up?

ECHEGARAY: Oh, I really hope so.

SHAPIRO: (Laughter).

ECHEGARAY: For the neutral, for the fan, let's hope it happens. I'm not sure because I think that what you will find specifically in knockout competitions, Ari, is that once you get closer to the final eight, the final four and of course, essentially the final, these teams are now being a little bit more aware of what they're facing. So defensively, they're a little bit more compact. They're collectively trying to, you know, be a little bit more resilient. So I don't know if we will see the goal fest that we saw these past few days, as you mentioned. Hopefully, we'll still see some excitement.

SHAPIRO: So eight teams are left, not necessarily the teams people anticipated. There's a ton of star power. What are you watching out for?

ECHEGARAY: I think we have to go back to one of the darlings of the tournament, Italy. Unbelievable - 31 matches unbeaten. The Italian fans are absolutely ecstatic. It's been a long time coming for them. So Italy against Belgium, I think, is the main attraction of the next round. And then, of course, as I mentioned, Spain, who had a little bit of trouble early on, now they're scoring some goals. And then Denmark, you know, Kasper Schmeichel, their goalkeeper, said, we're going to win this for Christian Eriksen. And honestly, I'm starting to believe him. And finally, England against Ukraine. Ukraine, by the way, coached by Andriy Shevchenko, one of the greatest strikers the game has ever seen. So each game has a storyline to watch out for.

SHAPIRO: Which team has surprised you the most?

ECHEGARAY: Well, from the final remaining games, I have to stick once again with Italy. Listen, Italy is not necessarily a shocking surprise, that they're going this far, but it's very difficult to see anybody else but them getting to the final. And then, the other side, again, Denmark. I just think this story's unbelievable. If you're just a neutral, if you don't even like soccer, you really need to pay attention to them. Unbelievable - from the first game when Christian Eriksen fell. He had to basically be resuscitated on the pitch. And the emotional mounting that this team has had to climb is incredible. So to me, that's a story to watch out for. They'll be facing the Czech Republic.

SHAPIRO: You want to pick a winner?

ECHEGARAY: Of course I want to pick a winner. Let's do it.

SHAPIRO: (Laughter) Who's it going to be?

ECHEGARAY: I told you I'm Peruvian. I told you I grew up in England. And I have such a soft spot. I have family that's English. It's coming home, baby - England. I think they're going to finally do it. I know I am tempting fate tremendously here, but I have so much faith. It's been such a revelation to see this squad finally shake off those ghosts. I really see England, and it's coming home.

SHAPIRO: Well, whether it does or not, it'll be fun to watch.

Luis Miguel Echegaray of CBS Sports, thank you so much.

ECHEGARAY: Thank you so much, Ari. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.