We’re into the best part of any tournament. The KO stage. No more strategic result, no more saving power, no more calculating. You win you progress, you lose you go home. And wow, what games we will see at the round of 16. So, let’s see the teams that progressed, the fixtures, and how I see different teams.
The first team to qualify for the round of 16. I didn’t think they were real contenders for the crowns before the tournament. But, the way they were playing and the videos around the team, showing the atmosphere in that team. Those people look ready to die for each other. This is the most interesting Italy team I’ve ever seen. They definitely are one of the three teams I see as favorites to win the tournament.
Next opponent: Austria
Until now the Austrians didn’t win a single game at a European championship. And now they reached the round of 16. Definitely the biggest achievement in their football history. They achieved more than expected. No pressure on them, so the game against Italy should be fun for them.
Belgium has its golden generation right now. They passed the group stage with ease and Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard are just getting into shape. Definitely a title contender. Probably the last chance of this golden generation to shine. The other from my top three favorites for the title.
Next opponent: Portugal
The current European champions. Portugal is a team that can perform against every team. Full of world-class experienced players and young guns. The game against Belgium is the first big game in the round of 16. Definitely, the winner will get some confidence boost. Can’t wait.
The world champions have so much talent in their team that it’s hard to imagine. They entered the tournament as the number one contender. Everything but a title will be a failure for their fans.
Next opponent: Switzerland
One of the always solid teams. They’ll probably lose against France but will give all they have. It won’t be an easy game for the world champions. Xherdan Shaqiri is on fire, and he proved that he has magic in his feet.
They barely sneaked into the next round. So far they are underperforming. As silver medalists from the last world cup, people expect much more from them. And the moment of truth is here. Play or go home, that’s it.
Next opponent: Spain
La Furia Roja is the other team that people expected to qualify much easier than they did. Until the last game with Slovakia, they were looking like a team that has no idea what to do with the ball. They were just moving the ball around without any idea of scoring. They need to change that or they won’t go far away.
This is one side of the scheme, so only one of these eight teams will reach the final. Interesting times. On the other side we have:
A team with solid defense. A team that is hard to beat knows how to defend deep, so when they meet some of the top teams, every minute without conceding a goal will work in their favor.
Next opponent: Ukraine
After the first two games, I thought Ukraine is the most entertaining side to watch. Sadly, their third group game against Austria was a pain to watch. Let’s hope they show their entertaining face against Sweden.
The three lions didn’t convince that “Football’s coming home”. Given the talent they have, people expected much more of them. Two goals in three games is not looking good for Southgate’s team.
Next opponent: Germany
A real football classic. England – Germany at Wembley. So, far Germany showed three different faces against their three opponents in the group: lethargic, attacking, making mistakes in the back. Which face are we going to see against England? I can’t wait for this game. The main event of the round of 16.
The Netherlands showed great football. Given the history of their manager, people weren’t expecting that much of them, but now… they showed themselves as one of the top teams in Europe again. Can they deliver against a better team?
Next opponent: Czech Republic
For me especially the Czech’s are the surprise of the tournament. Not many people expected them to be that good. They already proved themselves as a team that everyone should comply with. I can’t wait to watch them play again.
Wales is one of the most consistent teams in recent years. They barely beat any of the top teams, but on the other side, they barely lose from the worse teams. They’re barely a team to surprise you.
Next opponent: Denmark
A team that went through the whole specter of emotions during the group phase. At the end with the beating of Russia, they reached their target. Definitely a team with a lot of talent.
Disappointment of the tournament: definitely in this bracket, I should put Russia and Poland. For me, these two teams should’ve performed much better.