Euro 2016 – The Last 16 Round Up

Euro-16-Header-Image

The knockout rounds have begun, no more teams tactically playing for 3rd place leaving themselves with a hope of staying in France for a few days longer.

It’s best we start off by saying…Thank goodness for Sunday and Monday. The 6 teams that played on Saturday provided us with a poor spectacle for the latter stages of a major international tournament.

Poland v Switzerland opened proceedings in St Etienne and produced 2 talking points. An outrageous overhead kick from Stoke’s Shaqiri and a woeful penalty in the shootout from Arsenal’s new £30Mil man Granit Xhaka. Poland progress and that’s without the prolific Lewandowski finding the net so far.

Moving to the highly anticipated “Battle of Britain.” It very much disappointed as Wales and Northern Ireland produced a cagey affair. It was settled after a Bale cross delivered into the dreaded corridor of uncertainty and was touched past his own keeper by the unfortunate McAuley, the challenge had to be made with Robson-Kanu awaiting a tap in.

To finish the day, a terrible match produced an extra time win for Ronaldo and co. Quaresma’s nod over the line was the game’s 1st on target attempt in the 117th minute and we were all relieved to be able to turn off in time for the Joshua fight! Portugal are in the quarters having yet to win a game in normal time.

Sunday needed to raise our spirits and it did just that…

As expected a spirited ROI gave hosts France a scare with a 2nd minute penalty from man-of-the-moment Robbie Brady. Then Antione Griezmann decide to silence his critics by turning up to the party, a fantastic 2nd half display saw him terrorise the Irish backline and score twice completing a 2-1 comeback win.

Fearfully for the remaining sides, Germany and Belgium destroyed their opposition to comfortably progress. 3-0 and 4-0 wins respectively and it could have been a lot more for either, do not be surprised if these two contest the final on 10th July.

Monday saw us reach the conclusion of the round and it produced the biggest shock the competition has EVER seen, Iceland 2-1 England!

An early Rooney penalty should have settled any lingering nerves for the favourites but within seconds it was 1-1 and minutes the turnaround was complete. Joe Hart should have kept out a Sigthorsson effort but just like Bale’s free kick, his left hand wasn’t strong enough.

Out-battled and out-thought seems a fair way to sum up a woeful night for the English with Hodgson resigning immediately after the defeat.

Euro-16-Iceland

In the earlier game Italy produced and stellar “Italian” performance, occasionally threatening going forward and unbeatable at the back. Just like the Belgium game it was wrapped up with a late Pelle volley for a 2-0 scoreline. A mouth-watering Quarter Final with Germany awaits for what was supposed to be their worst side for 50 years.

The Quarter Finals start on Thursday and with every team just 2 games from the showpiece final it should be an exciting watch.

Some of the usual suspects will know what to expect in terms of pressure however the appearance of Iceland, Poland and Wales provides a possible twist for sides that in effect have nothing to lose.

Have we seen the last twist of Euro 2016? Possibly not.

Euro 2016 image sourced from; www.scmp.com
Iceland image sourced from; www.indianexpress.com


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Euro 2016 – Who’s All Going?

This week has seen both highs and lows for France.

The race to qualify for Europe’s premier competition next summer has been rightly overshadowed by the terrible acts of terrorism that we have witnessed.

Back to the beautiful game however as we now have a completed line up for Euro 2016.

Euro-16-Teams-Confirmed

As usual the pot seedings are questionable. I’m not sure how qualifying via the play offs means you are 2 pots higher than teams who topped the group but we are all aware that Uefa & Fifa aren’t really sure what they are doing!

But what a tournament it is shaping up to be with so many questions, new nations involved, great support for sure and perhaps most importantly the promise of a great summer of footy.

Let’s take a look at a few who may surprise or disappoint in the competition:-

Winners – Germany

Who can see past the current World Champions? They topped one of the most difficult qualifying groups it also has to be said.

With the talent at their disposal and confidence gained from Brazil 14 the “always there or thereabout” Germans will be a difficult obstacle to overcome.

Dark Horses – England

A controversial choice perhaps but I seriously believe the serial disappointers that are England have serious credentials this time around.

A 100% qualifying round and a new youthful line up could provide them with a fearless element that may surprise.

The usual problem of facing a decent side at some point will occur but the Three Lions may just have enough in the locker this time.

1st Plane Home – Republic Of Ireland

Yep, sorry it’s a home nation.

The Irish have done well to qualify but the Bosnians didn’t provide as stern a test as we had all expected.

With a pot seeding of 4 a tough group stage is inevitable and they just don’t have enough quality to compete across the channel.

Surprise Package – Austria

Came through a group containing Russia and Zlatan’s Sweden unbeaten, with 9 wins from 10, scoring 22 and conceding just 5.

Only their 2nd time at the championships and with stars such as David Alaba they can impress a few who may not be aware of them.

austria-euro-2016-football-team

This is pre the official draw which will take place on December 12th it must be said.

All in all some big nations, big players and big ego’s will be landing in early July and are sure to impress.

Difficult not to start getting a little excited unless you are Scottish or Dutch!

Let’s all hope everything goes without a hitch in a country which has clearly been targeted and roll on Euro 2016.

Euro-2016-france-trophy

Euro 2016 Pot Image Sourced From; http://www.redcafe.net
Austria Team Image Sourced From; http://sportinglife.aol.co.uk
Euro 2016 Trophy Image Sourced From; http://footballtripper.com