The group stages of the European Championships are finally over and the final 16 teams are now known. It was one of the tightest races for the four best third-placed teams, with Finland and Slovakia missing out only on goal difference.
Nevertheless, every team can be very proud of what they have achieved and now it is time to look forward to the knockout rounds. FootTheBall presents all the fixtures that are coming in the round-of-16 starting from Saturday.
The Welsh side are sensing another special run at the Euros, much like the one they had in 2016. Gareth Bale, Aaron Ramsey, and Dan James have formed one of the speediest and in-form trios of the competition which will be hard to contain. For the Danes, it is an emotional time as much as a happy one.
After all that transpired in their first match, they dug deep and managed to qualify for the knockouts once more. No doubt they will be giving their all in their traditional never-say-quit attitude.
The Azzurri are in a scary vein of form, scoring seven goals in their three matches while not conceding in more than 1000 minutes. They have a plethora of talent in all areas of the pitch and are one of the top contenders for winning the competition outright. Austria just about managed to qualify as runners-up after edging Ukraine in their final match.
Franco Foda’s side are bereft of a true superstar which might help their cause even if they can rally together and take the game to the Italians.
NETHERLANDS VS CZECH REPUBLIC
There were questions regarding the Dutch coming into the tournament but those have been firmly put to bed. The duo of Memphis Depay and Gini Wijnaldum are wreaking havoc on opponents as they won all three of their group games to set up this clash.
Frank de Boer’s side are no longer outsiders and the Czech will do well to match that tempo. They have shown that they can hold up their end, with Patrick Schick coming into his own already. If they can stifle the talented Dutch attack, a surprise may be in the offing.
BELGIUM VS PORTUGAL
The Red Devils are finally living up to their number one rank, taking nine points from nine comfortably. Romelu Lukaku and Kevin De Bruyne have been imperious every time they are on the pitch together, which cannot be good news for anyone. However, their defence is a bit suspect which will only embolden their opponents.
Led by the top goalscorer in the history of men’s football, the Selecao have truly devastating speed and talents going forward. A feisty clash awaits.
CROATIA VS SPAIN
Led by Luka Modric, Croatia showed that they still have some of the magic left from their magical 2018 run. A final match win over Scotland booked their passage into the knockouts and with the veterans still going strong, they will fancy their chances against this Spanish side.
Though they scored five goals against Slovakia (two of them own goals), La Roja have looked severely stunted going forward with clear goal scorers hard to find. It will be a battle of who can turn the possession into opportunities in this interesting if subdued tie.
FRANCE VS SWITZERLAND
The World Cup winners are having a weird tournament. Expected to dominate, they have now drawn consecutive matches against Hungary and Portugal. The good news is that Karim Benzema is finally back amongst the goals but Kylian Mbappe is yet to open his account.
The Swiss, meanwhile, pulled off a fine win against Turkey and will be quietly confident of keeping the French attackers at bay. If they can dominate the midfield battle, easier said than done, Vladimir Petkovic’s side will be a tough challenge.
ENGLAND VS GERMANY
One of the hardest matches to call beforehand. The Three Lions have been good, nothing spectacular in their matches, squeezing out a couple of 1-0 wins. Harry Kane has looked increasingly out of touch while the scrutiny surrounding some of Gareth Southgate’s picks is at its peak. Joachim Loew’s men, written off by many, blew away Portugal before earning a hard fought draw against Hungary.
They have stars in their dressing room, but that does not translate to goals all the time. This will be a much more even contest than many would like, with possibly some moment of magic being needed to separate the two. Hopefully not penalties, if the English fans are to be asked.
SWEDEN VS UKRAINE
The Swedes have surprised many with their performances already, given the fact that their long-time leader Zlatan Ibrahimovic is missing. The rise of Alexander Isak has been staggering to see and he is ably supported by Emil Forsberg and Dejan Kulusevski.
They are extremely compact in defence and hard to break which will be a tall order for their opponents. Andriy Shevchenko’s side have made it this far for the first time ever and after a dismal performance against Austria, need to improve their game considerably if they are to have a shot at progressing further.