The tricky part of predicting Euro 2016 is determining who the third place qualifiers will be and therefore how the Round of 16 matches will shape up; so being the complete football nerd that I am I downloaded an Excel spreadsheet, plugged in my predictions for each match and came up with the following first and second placed teams in each group:
Group A: 1) France, 2) Switzerland
Group B: 1) England, 2) Russia
Group C: 1) Germany, 2) Poland
Group D: 1) Spain, 2) Turkey
Group E: 1) Belgium, 2) Italy
Group F: 1) Portugal, 2) Austria
This meant that the third place qualifiers were Ukraine, Croatia, Wales and Romania and based on my initial predictions the Round of 16 could shape up like this:
Switzerland vs Poland
Spain vs Wales
England vs Croatia
Portugal vs Italy
Germany vs Romania
Belgium vs Turkey
France vs Ukraine
Russia vs Austria
Picking Poland, Spain, England, Portugal, Germany, Belgium, France and Russia (that last one was pretty much a coin toss!); gave this Quarter Final line-up:
Poland vs Spain
England vs Portugal
Germany vs Belgium
France vs Russia
Looking at the quarter finals, and going against my England-based self-preservation instincts, I will say that England for once will have luck on their side and will get past Portugal, obviously not as a result of a penalty shoot-out(!), but then lose to Spain in the semi-final.
For the second semi-final, I would suggest that Germany will have just too much for Belgium and will meet France in a replay of that unforgettable World Cup semi-final in 1982 and the not-so-unforgettable quarter-final meeting in Brazil two years ago. It would certainly be a fascinating match and a very close call between the hosts and the World Cup holders, but I think I would probably just go for Germany to spoil the French party.
My predictions therefore point to a repeat of the 2008 Euro Final and a third consecutive final for Spain; however this time I think the Germans will join that exclusive club of teams to have held both the World Cup and the European Championship.
Those are just my thoughts on how the competition may go, and of course will no doubt be proven to be completely off the mark from Matchday 1! I would of course be very interested anyone else’s opinions.