“This is what football is, this is what it makes it so much fascinating for all the fans around the world”. Yes, eventually we have come to an end to the three matchdays which started on 12th June and we are halfway down the line.
From a small jerk to Christian Eriksen which shook the world to the pure class and elegant football and more of what we saw was a Diaspora of football fans moving from one country to the other to watch and support their teams for crucial 90 minutes in these hard times of Covid.
It was a lightning start to the tournament with Italy showing that Mancini has different plans this time, Belgium being the powerhouse and Enrique’s Spain coming from behind to claim their spot with a 5-0 win over Slovakia and many others in for the top 16.
The special mention of a group called as “Group of Death”, truly it was like the three European Giants with Hungary was inevitable and the 270 minutes of football from Hungary got the world attention when we saw the pure defence in all three matches, firstly against Portugal the tiring legs lost the game when a shot was deflected in goal and then Ronaldo hitting the brace, against France (The Favorite) they scored and went onto draw and in the last, it was a great football of attack and defence when they were 1-0 up and then again 1-2 up and then letting go of their third place and draw 2-2 at last and what a farewell.
To talk about now is the upcoming matches, the next round:
(Timings are 9:30 p.m. and 12:30 a.m. for the respective day and the midnight for the matches down below)
26th June: Wales vs Denmark and Italy vs Austria
27th June: the Netherlands vs the Czech Republic and Belgium vs Portugal
28th June: Croatia vs Spain and France vs Switzerland
29th June: England vs Germany and Sweden vs Ukraine
Wales vs Denmark:
Wales and Bale, the name and the game, everything is great after the loss against Portugal in the 2016 Euros. They don’t want to lose now and be stiff and firm. Yes, they are a good side now which was seen when a lot of attacks were taking place in the group stage. Ramsey’s legs are looking for goals this time and the whole squad is working hard.
After the loss and penalty miss against Finland, they met Belgium both lost but the determination kept them going and a win 4-1 over Russia sealed their place, and their main man Eriksen can’t be happier to see them playing in the Round of 16.
Players to look out for:
Wales has Bale who is a champion and Ramsey who has shown that he is ready to give a shot towards the goal with the pace of James on the other wing. Ampadu is out as he is on a red card.
Poulsen, Braithwaite, and that strong back of Kjaer, Vestergaard with between post the tall man Schmeichel standing firm.
Wales and Denmark will showcase their best while defending but somehow Denmark has the upper hand with full strength in the team.
Italy vs Austria:
Italy who has been the ‘Dark Horses’ of the tournament through their unbeaten run in the competition as well as across many competitions should be able to get through this round with ease.
Austria qualified for the RO16, they have proved a benchmark for performance in this tournament and managed to qualify with second place in the group and emerged as a great competitor.
Players to watch out for:
Italy’s star striker Ciro Immobile and their outperforming midfielder Manuel Locatelli could be the balls that could ‘strike out’ the Austrians and would be crucial in getting Italy the win to qualify to the quarter-finals. They have been scoring goals and have displayed resounding overall gameplay in the group stages.
Ciro Immobile has scored 2 goals in the three matches that he played in.
Manuel Locatelli has been brilliant from the midfield and has contributed to scoring a brace for the team.
Italy has an upper hand in the game considering the performances in the group stages but this is football it’s a game that is played by the game is not decided till the last minute. It’s not over until it’s over. Maybe some David Alaba magic could be the key to unlocking the Italian defence.
Netherlands vs Czech Republic:
Netherlands stands at the top of their group with 9 points, thus winning every match in the group stage. Netherlands is a team that has a lot of world-class players who can produce some beautiful, mind-blowing football with those one-touch passes.
Czech Republic, an underdog team that has performed well in the group stages, especially with Patrik Schick scoring those worldly goals. Being a team which has done unexpectedly well we could expect a great match between these teams.
Players to look in:
Holland’s Memphis Depay, Frankie De Jong, Georginio Wijnaldum and many such players could make a drastic difference to the end result of the match as they have been performing on a high level which can be clearly seen in the matches.
Patrik Schick has been a major breakthrough star for them. His contributions helped Czech Republic to earn a spot in the knockout stages of the tournament. He could very well influence this match.
Almost everyone would have been expecting an easy win for Netherland but one small moment could change the flow of the match and who knows which team will be producing this magic moment to win the match and the spot in the next round.
Belgium vs Portugal:
The most interesting matchup between two footballing giants in the RO16 would be this. Two of the star-studded teams will go head to head for a place in the quarter-finals. Both teams will have a huge fan base supporting and vouching for their team to win. This match could be a pedestal for amazement and is the most awaited match of this group.
Players to watch out for:
We could never rule out Cristiano Ronaldo to do wonders on the field. Being one of the greatest players in history to play ‘the beautiful game’, he is destined to amaze the fans with his game and leadership qualities along with him the attack includes Bernando Silva, Bruno Fernandes, and Dias with Pepe at the back.
Belgians have many top performing players such as Romelu Lukaku and Kevin De Bruyne who possess amazing skills alongside the ability to drop the jaws of their fans as well as the fans of the opposing team.
This matchup is a battle of giants of international football. One team is ranked number 1 team on various scales of football and the other consists of players capable of turning around any match in their favour. Fans will be up for a treat as well as a dose of astonishment till the moment the ref will blow the final whistle.
Spain VS Croatia:
The Spaniards and the Croatians are up for a battle of possession and control. Both the team intend to keep most of the possession of the ball which is supported by the midfield that these teams possess. So, a final match-winner will be very difficult to predict until the match is played.
The Croatian maestro Ivan Perisic and the Ballon d’Or winner Luka Modric could always be counted on to produce some astonishing football just like the outside footed banger in the match against Scotland which sent a chill down the spine.
Who wants to lose, Spain may have ended two matches in a draw but to be honest this round will be more than 90 minutes thus you can’t count on anyone the sides are strong this time and are not letting go off easily? Let’s watch to get the final result, Spaniards have the upper hand.
France VS Switzerland:
The French have been the tournament favourites despite performing their level best. Looking at the team sheet any football fan could say that this team can destroy any team that is on the opposite side of the goal but the group stage saga has not been so.
Due to this fact, the Swiss have a chance to outshine the French and book a spot in the quarter-finals. They have been resilient in this competition which got them through to the RO16, if they can keep up this motivation then they could pose some threat to France.
France has a long list of players who could perform wonders, namely Antoine Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe, N’Golo Kante, Paul Pogba, Karim Benzema and this list goes on and on. All of these players possess the ability to create as well as score goals, something with which the whole football universe is familiar.
The Swiss keeper Yann Sommer and their midfield star Xherdan Shaqiri could be the turning points of this game. The Liverpool man could be introducing a change in the result of the match as he has been influential in the previous matches as well but it’s all France hooting around as they are the favourites to win the title.
England VS Germany:
Another match up that would leave the football fans drooling for a tremendous 90 minutes filled with twists, tactics, skills and wonders is about to take the stage of international football.
There is no prerogative in this match as the Germans as well as The Three Lions can come up and snatch a win from the hands of the other team. It’ll be a match where both sides will be competing for the neck to neck and will be breathing down each other’s throats till one of them gets a win.
It is not possible to list out every player in the team sheet of both the teams as star performers as that is the level of players these teams possess.
But based on the recent performances Raheem Sterling and Luke Shaw could change the flow of the game in their favour with their speed and prowess in the counter-attacking capabilities.
Germany’s Serge Gnabry, Thomas Muller, Tony Kroos and Kai Havertz could wreak havoc in England’s defensive line as they have a venomous shot to score and a magical vision to create opportunities as well
It again hard to call for this tie and the form they have shown is full of pace lets see who gets the upper hand through the odds favour the English three lions, does Southgate has something in the bank for Sancho who is on the bench till now. Will we be watching him on the pitch now?
Sweden vs Ukraine:
The calm and composed teams looking to get their names in history. Sweden, yes, they topped the group, what a resilience a draw with Spain and then beating Slovakia and Poland, 3-2 in the 94th minute.
Can’t take them likely and on the other hand, Ukraine showed the power but lastly, luckily they passed the test and quietly came into the round of 16 as the team lost two of their three group stage matches.
Players to look out for:
Yes, Sweden has the likes of Isak the young gun, Forsberg and with Lindelof at back make them a stronger side while the Ukrainians have Yaremchuk and Zinchenko with them.
When the stage gets bigger you never know who will win the tie but as in for touch for predictions Sweden is tough to beat. Ukraine coach needs to find that space between the 11 and put it into the minds of his 11to win against Sweden.
The Stage is set and the teams are ready all that remains is to see who will triumph and who will crumble!