Thursday, June 23, 2016

Euro 2016: Round of 16

With the last matches of the group stages we are now ready to the knock-out rounds of the Euro 2016. There were quite some surprises, with no team going through with maximum points:
  • Switzerland-Poland: Each came second in their groups, after France and Germany respectively, and with good results they are very evenly paired sides, with both having good options of making it to the quarterfinals, where the winner would face Croatia or Portugal.
  • Croatia-Portugal: Croatia won their group ahead of Spain and have been one of the best teams of the tournament. Portugal on the other hand have been a big disappointment, just making it to third place behind Hungary and Iceland. Croatia are surely favourites, although one never knows with Ronaldo...
  •  Wales-Northern Ireland: A British clash where Wales will surely be favourites after their outstanding group victory ahead of England, with Gareth Bale central in a fantastic team effort. The Irish just made it through on the last 3rd spot following their victory over Ukraine, and surely Wales are favourites. The winner will face the winner of Hungary-Belgium.
  • Hungary-Belgium: Hungary has been the second biggest surprise of the tournament (after Iceland), winning their group with a strong team effort and confidence. Belgium has been a bit disappointing after they had been so highly rated, but they still have a fantastic team that should be able to take Hungary. But do not underestimate the Hungarians!
  • Germany-Slovakia: As expected the German world champions won their group ahead of Poland, and will be favourites against Slovakia, who went through as the best third placed side after Wales and England. The winner will face Italy or Spain, in what seems to be the hardest path to the final!
  • Italy-Spain: If any match is obligatory, it should be this one. Both started as the best teams of the tournament, but looked more shaky when losing their last group match. Still, Italy lost to Ireland with a largely substitute team, and if they can put a display on like they did against Belgium, they should be favourites against a Spain side that exposed many weaknesses against Croatia.
  • France-Ireland: Ireland did what they had to do when they defeated Italy in their last match to just make it through to the knock-out stages. France won their group, although they had to struggle in every match, and still has to show their full potential. That said, the hosts will surely expect a quarterfinal against England or Iceland.
  • England-Iceland: The sensational Icelanders are the darlings of the tournament having made it through on second place after Hungary and ahead of Portugal (take that Ronaldo!). Again they will be up against the odds. England made it through on second spot, and have played fine on occasions, but  seem to lack the last quality. England are surely favourites by far, but if the tournament has shown anything, it is that Iceland are not there just to be run over! So look out England, as the world supports Iceland!
In my view this is when the tournament really starts; there were too many boring matches in the group stages!

No comments: