The Euros has once again shown how much football has changed over the years. After 36 round of games between all 6 groups, 6 group winners, 6 group runners-up and 4 3rd-best placed teams have emerged as the round of 16 contestants. Shockingly, the likes of Austria, Turkey, Sweden, Russia and Ukraine failed to make it past the group stage. However, the likes of Hungary, Iceland and Northern Ireland have all defied the prediction odds and qualified. Deservedly. And they can’t be ruled out as far as advancing to the next rounds goes, as they have proven themselves. The fixtures start on June 25 and end on June 27, and this is how they could go down.
SWITZERLAND vs POLAND
The Poles face-off with the Swiss in what should be a keenly contested game. Poland are yet to concede a goal, but they have only scored twice, while Switzerland have conceded just once and also scored twice. Definitely we wouldn’t see plenty goals here, and this could be a match decided by penalties. Lewandowski hasn’t been able to score at the Euros, and against a solid Switzerland defence, he isn’t likely to get any.
Prediction: Switzerland to win
CROATIA vs PORTUGAL
Portugal barely made it out of the group despite earlier being tipped by many to emerge on top. 3 draws, 4 goals scored and conceded saw them earn a match up with group D’s leaders, Croatia. The Croats are currently without Modric, but Spain still lost to them after 14 unbeaten Euros games. The CR7-led Portugal don’t seem to have enough firepower to win them.
Prediction: Croatia to win
WALES vs NORTHERN IRELAND
Wales will have Bale bail them out against their known enemy and British rivals. The Northern Irish team only won 1 game and lost 2, but their defensive abilities will present a lot of problem for the Welsh attack. Maybe a freekick will decide this.
Prediction: Wales to win
HUNGARY vs BELGIUM
Given how the Hungarians emerged group F winners, they are definitely a threat to Belgium. But it’s a 20th FIFA ranked versus 2nd ranked affair, and given the difference in quality, Belgium should win.
Prediction: Belgium to win
GERMANY vs SLOVAKIA
A match not to be missed. The Germans haven’t exactly clicked yet. 3 group goals is a poor record given their standard and an upset could be in the offing against another highly-defensive side. Brazil know what Germany can do on a good day, and the Slovakians wouldn’t want that.
Prediction: Germany to win
FRANCE vs IRELAND
The host should definitely win easily against the boys in green. Ireland lost by 3 goals to Belgium, but won against Italy. So you can’t exactly say if they have a weak defence or a great attack. Upsetting France doesn’t look likely.
Prediction: France to win
ITALY vs SPAIN
The last European Championships had these 2 face-off in the finals, and it will definitely be a tough encounter. It might have as well been a semifinal or final match. Everyone wants to see how tiki-taka will fare against unarguably the best defence/goalkeeping department in the world. Conte will definitely come up with a master plan, and it won’t be surprising if Italy win.
Prediction: Italy to win
ENGLAND vs ICELAND
The English and Ice lands will engage in the battle of the lands, and England are clear favourites. But having lost no single game in a group that had Austria and Portugal, just maybe the country with a 330,000 population might cause a major upset in France. At least someone like Vardy will understand.
Prediction: England to win