Euro 2024’s quarter-finals begin on Friday with a highly anticipated match between hosts Germany and Spain, as the tournament enters its decisive final week.

Germany’s match against Spain in Stuttgart pits two of the tournament’s best-performing teams against each other earlier than fans might have preferred. Due to an unbalanced knockout bracket, four serious contenders for the title find themselves on the same side. The winner of Friday’s clash will face either Portugal or France, both former European champions with rosters filled with top-tier players from Europe’s biggest clubs, in the semi-finals.

Meanwhile, England will face Switzerland on Saturday after narrowly defeating Slovakia, ranked 45th in the world, in the round of 16. England has reached the quarter-finals despite underperforming in each of their four matches.

The tournament has featured some of the world’s best footballers, but many of the biggest stars have failed to impress. Cristiano Ronaldo appears to be past his prime, while Kylian Mbappe has only a group-stage penalty to his name, far from the form that earned him the Golden Boot at the last World Cup.

England’s Jude Bellingham and Harry Kane, who were expected to shine after stellar seasons in La Liga and the Bundesliga respectively, have also underperformed, despite scoring all four of England’s goals.

Euro 2024 has seen records fall at both ends of the age spectrum. Spain’s Lamine Yamal, 16, has dazzled, becoming the youngest player to feature at a European Championship. Should he score in the quarter-finals or beyond, he will become the tournament’s youngest scorer.

In contrast, Croatia’s Luka Modric set a new record as the oldest goalscorer at 38, with Portugal’s Ronaldo, 39, and Pepe, 41, possibly set to surpass him. Pepe is now the oldest player ever to feature in the Euros, with 12 of the 24 teams at this tournament setting new records for their oldest participants.

This tournament has seen an unusually high number of own goals, with nine already recorded. The previous record of 11, set at Euro 2020, looks set to be broken. UEFA’s broader definition of what constitutes an own goal has contributed to this, but there have also been some notable mishaps.

The most comical own goal came in Turkey’s 3-0 loss to Portugal, where a sloppy back pass led to a chaotic scramble resulting in the ball ending up in the net. Many other own goals have resulted from dangerous crosses, with players like Spain’s Robin Le Normand, Czech Republic’s Robin Hranac, and Austria’s Maximilian Woeber all inadvertently scoring for the opposition.

As the tournament progresses, fans can look forward to more thrilling matches and perhaps more unexpected moments as Euro 2024 heads towards its conclusion.