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Two weeks into the European Cup and we are down to sixteen teams from twenty-four which started the tournament. The winners and runners-up of Euro Cup 2016 groups have qualified along with four of the best-ranked 3rd place teams.
With the Round of 16, the knockout phases of the Euro Cup 2016 begin. Every match played from now on will have a winner who moves on and a loser who crashes out of the tournament. The battle lines are drawn and teams are lined-up for epic clashes. Here are the predictions for the Round of 16 matches.
Line-up & Predictions
The Round of 16 games which begin on June 25 has some exciting matches to watch out for.
Game 1: Switzerland Vs Poland
The second placed team from Group A (Switzerland) faces the second placed team from Group C (Poland). This is the first time both teams have made it past the group stage. Switzerland comes off a strong display in its goalless draw against France while Poland comes into the game with two wins and a draw in the group stage.
While Switzerland has impressed all with its good all-round attacking game, Poland too has shown glimpses of brilliance on field, especially in their draw against Germany. With the two teams eyeing for a place in the Quarterfinals, this match will surely set the tone for the rest of the Round of 16 games.
Players to Watch Out for – Granit Xhaka (Switzerland), Xherdan Shaqiri (Switzerland) and Robert Lewandowski (Poland)
Prediction – Switzerland. Though it is a tough call especially since the match can swing both ways, Switzerland looks the better placed team at the moment and will have a slight advantage over Poland.
Watch the Game – Saturday, 25 June at 6.30 PM (IST) on Sony SIX and Sony ESPN.
Game 2: Wales Vs Northern Ireland
The Gareth Bale-led Wales will face its first knockout challenge against Northern Ireland. Riding high after topping Group B, Wales will look to seal their place in the Quarters with another emphatic win. Meanwhile, Northern Ireland sneaked into the Round of 16 after a third-place finish in Group C and will look to steal the limelight from the Red Dragons.
Players to Watch Out for – Gareth Bale (Wales), Aaron Ramsey (Wales) and Steven Davis (Northern Ireland).
Prediction – Wales. Gareth Bale has been in spectacular form for Wales all through the qualifying matches and group stages. He is expected to contribute yet again and continue the dream run for Wales in this Euro.
Watch the Game – Saturday, 25 June at 9.30 PM (IST) on Sony SIX and Sony ESPN.
Game 3: Croatia Vs Portugal
The table toppers from Group D (Croatia) face off against the third-placed team from Group F (Portugal) in the third Round of 16 game of Euro 2016. Croatia, having toppled defending Euro champions Spain will look to capitalise on their sublime form to get into the Quarterfinals. Meanwhile, Portugal barring its star striker Cristiano Ronaldo has looked rusty throughout the tournament. They will need to back themselves up to have a genuine chance of making the Quarterfinals.
Players to Watch Out for – Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal), Luka Modric (Croatia), Ivan Rakitic (Croatia) and Mario Mandzukic (Croatia).
Prediction – Croatia. Too much reliance on Ronaldo isn’t doing anything good for Portugal. Croatia have a well-rounded team and will be the favourites to cruise through to the Quarterfinals.
Watch the Game – Sunday, 26 June at 12.30 AM (IST) on Sony SIX and Sony ESPN.
Game 4: France Vs Ireland
The hosts France take on Republic of Ireland in the fourth game of the Round of 16. France, toppers of Group A have so far had an easy route to the knockout phase, playing against Albania, Romania and Switzerland. Meanwhile, Ireland pulled out a shocker in its last game against Italy to qualify from Group E. Though France have an upper hand, Ireland would look to upset yet another top team to keep its hopes alive in the tournament.
Players to Watch Out for – Paul Pogba (France), Dimitri Payet (France), Antoine Griezmann (France) and Shane Long (Ireland).
Prediction – France. Ireland might have run away with an upset victory over Italy but would be hard to repeat the same feat against the hosts. France is extremely well-built in its midfield and forward positions and will look to seal an easy spot in the Quarters.
Watch the Game – Sunday, 26 June at 6.30 PM (IST) on Sony SIX and Sony ESPN.
Game 5: Germany Vs Slovakia
The World Champions Germany take on the fighting Slovaks in an exciting knockout game. Germany have comfortably sailed past the group stage with two wins and one draw. Slovakia were beaten by Wales in the first game, registered a win over Russia in the second and held England in the third game to advance into the Round of 16. Germany will look to seal the game for a Quarterfinal spot while Slovakia with nothing to lose will take the fight to the Germans.
Players to Watch Out for – Mario Gotze (Germany), Thomas Muller (Germany), Marek Hamsik (Slovakia) and Martin Skrtel (Slovakia).
Prediction – Germany. Though Slovakia beat Germany 3-1 in the International Friendlies prior to the Euro Cup, the World Champions are expected to rise to the occasion, as they always have!
Watch the Game – Sunday, 26 June at 9.30 PM (IST) on Sony SIX and Sony ESPN.
Game 6: Hungary Vs Belgium
Hungary, the winners of Group F will face off against a powerful Belgian side which finished runners-up to Italy in Group E. The match is expected to be one-sided, considering the star power in the Belgian team but Hungary can prove to be a tricky opposition to tackle.
Players to Watch Out for – Eden Hazard (Belgium), Romelu Lukaku (Belgium), Kevin De Bruyne (Belgium) and Balazs Dzsudzsak (Hungary).
Prediction – Belgium. As much as Hungary would love to rain on Belgium’s parade, the chances of it happening are highly unlikely. Belgium is expected to cruise through to the next round with ease.
Watch the Game – Monday, 27 June at 12.30 AM (IST) on Sony SIX and Sony ESPN.
Game 7: Italy Vs Spain
This is a match of epic proportions. The two finalists of Euro Cup 2012 have an unlikely face off in the Round of 16 games at Euro 2016. Both teams are coming off a loss in their final group games. Spain lost to a high-spirited Croatian team while Italy were upset by underdogs Ireland. As fans around the world gear up for this amazing clash, it waits to be seen if it is the Spanish offence or Italian defence that can win the game for their respective teams.
Players to Watch Out for – Andres Iniesta (Spain), Alvaro Morata (Spain), David Silva (Spain), Leonardo Bonucci (Italy), Eder (Italy) and Graziano Pelle (Italy).
Prediction – Spain. Italy is known for its rock-solid defence but with constant poking, Spain will find a way past it!
Watch the Game – Monday, 27 June at 9.30 PM (IST) on Sony SIX and Sony ESPN.
Game 8: England Vs Iceland
The fully-loaded England team faces off against a surprise Iceland package. England with its packed talent has the potential to outclass any team but inability to find the back of the net has been a concern for the side. Meanwhile, Iceland plays its fist major tournament and would love to cause few upsets while progressing far into the tournament.
Players to Watch Out for – Daniel Sturridge (England), Jamie Vardy (England), Wayne Rooney (England) and Gylfi Sigurdsson (Iceland).
Prediction – England. The Three Lions will sail into the next round with a win over Iceland. Feisty star power and ball possession will work in favour of the English side.
Watch the Game – Tuesday, 28 June at 12.30 AM (IST) on Sony SIX and Sony ESPN.