Other than Portugal sneaking a win late in extra time against Croatia, who couldn’t replicate their performance in defeating Spain in the Group, and the two surprising results on Monday, the Round of 16 went largely to form. We now have the four quarter final match-ups over the next four days; here are some thoughts on how they may shape up.
Poland – Portugal – possibly the least attractive of the four fixtures, had he shown any kind of form in the tournament this would have been billed as Lewandowski v Ronaldo, however the former has been badly out-of-sorts and has looked incapable of getting on the scoresheet let alone challenging for the Golden Boot. Ronaldo and Portugal started the tournament slowly but have looked better in their last two matches; however take the crazy 3-3 draw with Hungary out of consideration and taking their chances has been a major issue. Having said that, Poland seemed to fade against Switzerland and I would expect Portugal to get through, although it may need more than the regulation 90 minutes.
Wales- Belgium – other than the opening round defeat to Italy, Belgium have looked fairly impressive especially against Ireland and in the last round against Hungary. Wales have exceeded expectations in getting to the Quarter Finals but I suspect Belgium will have too much for them.
Germany – Italy – this is the real stand-out tie of the round, Germany looked very comfortable against Slovakia and have probably looked like the best side so far. Italy however have shown that they are capable of implementing effective game plans to stifle more talented opposition and that they are capable of scoring themselves. Add in the fact that Germany have never beaten Italy in a finals tournament in eight attempts and this tie almost becomes too close to call. If I had to stick my neck out I would say Germany to sneak it, possibly on penalties, where their record is better than the Italians, I won’t however be putting any money on it!
France – Iceland – after being shocked into action after going down to an early goal to Ireland, surely the hosts won’t fall into the same trap as England and underestimate the threat of the tournament’s fairy-tale side? While Giroud hasn’t convinced at centre forward, the way he plays should cause more problems for the Iceland defence than Kane, Vardy and Sturridge could. Factor in the creativity and goal-threat of Griezmann and Payet, other attacking options from the bench and midfield as well as Deschamps’ ability to change the tactical approach and Les Bleus should be able to score the goals they need.
4 thoughts on “Euro 2016 – Thoughts on the Quarter Finals”
I would expect Portugal, Belgium, Germany and France to be in the semis but you never know. It would be great if Wales went through. I am supporting France so I really hope that Iceland don’t beat us but you never know.
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It would be great if we did have a surprise semi-finalist and Bale will once again be the key if Wales are to have any chance. I just can’t see France taking Iceland lightly so think it is probably the end of the road there. Like you I think the semis will be Portugal v Belgium and France v Germany.
“While Giroud hasn’t convinced at centre forward, the way he plays should cause more problems for the Iceland defence than Kane, Vardy and Sturridge could. ”
Stephen Hawking could cause more problems for the Iceland defence than Kane, Vardy and Sturridge. But I will go for France-Italy and Wales-Portugal in the semis (believe Wales took 4 points from 6 off Belgium in qualifying so no reason at all for them to be intimidated).
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Bold call on Wales, although as you rightly point out they did take 4 points out of 6 against Belgium in qualifying, it feels that Belgium aren’t quite there as a team yet but are nonetheless continuing to develop.
I really think Italy – Germany can go either way and my prediction was pretty much a coin-toss; Italy were very good against Belgium and Spain but less so against Sweden- not counting the Ireland game due to the number of changes!