We’re onto the Round of 16 – Which teams have impressed you?
I think I’m better off starting by saying what a fantastic competition it’s been so far. Sometimes we watch World Cups and previous Euros, and it takes a little bit of time for the teams to get into it. Football has evolved into a more tactical game in recent years, and sometimes matches and competitions can take a while to ignite. Still, this competition has certainly hit the ground running.
From the first game, Italy vs Turkey, Turkey tried to defend, but the Italians went at them. They were so expansive and so aggressive – they ended up running out as winners. But each match has kind of played out the same way.
There have been a few teams that maybe have taken a little bit of time to get going. Maybe France and Belgium haven’t exactly hit the ground running. But you can see the quality is certainly there in the three games that they’ve played. England also haven’t hit the ground running – especially being at Wembley Stadium. So you’d expect more from them in the last three games, but obviously, it hasn’t transpired that way. So we’ll have to wait and see what happens against Germany.
Teams that have impressed me? I’ve got to say the Italians. The way they’ve gone about things has been different class. Roberto Mancini is on a 30-game unbeaten run. Of course, home advantage has played its part, but the way Roberto Mancini has conducted his team and the way they’ve gone through the group stage matches has been absolutely different class. From the first game against Turkey, they put one foot through the door and emerged on the right side of the group; they’ve also got a favourable draw in the Round of 16 (vs Austria).
The Netherlands have gotten better and better over their three games. In the last match, 3-0 vs North Macedonia, I think they were outstanding. They changed their system in the second half, but they’ve got a versatility about them. Memphis Depay has got a few goals too. The Netherlands have been a different class.
The Germans. I know they’ve got one loss, one win and one draw, but I’ve been very impressed with them. They came into the tournament a little under the radar. The lack of expectations from the crowd, and from themselves, has undoubtedly helped them. I think the no-pressure scenario has played out well in their performances. Against Portugal (4-2), they were a different class.
If I had to pick my two standouts, I’d say the Netherlands and Italy have really impressed me.
Round of 16 predictions
Wales vs Denmark
Intriguing! As I said, Wales were a surprise to go through. Denmark are everybody’s favourite after what’s happened. I think it will be a tough night for the Welsh. I’m going to go with a Denmark win, 1-0.
Italy vs Austria
I can’t see the Italians losing against the Austrians. They’re in great form – 30 unbeaten. I can’t see past Italy. I’m going to go Italy 3-0.
Netherlands vs Czech Republic
Do you know what? – there’s always an upset in this round… but I’m not going to say it will be the Netherlands. I’m going to say Netherlands 2-0 against the Czechs.
Belgium vs Portugal
What a game that is…Wow! There’s got to be a winner, but I’d like to think it’s going to be very close. I’m going to go with Belgium to nick it – 3-2 to Belgium.
Croatia vs Spain
That’s fascinating. There’s my upset right there! I wasn’t convinced by Spain when they beat Slovakia 5-0 or in any of their other games. I know it sounds mad not to be convinced after a 5-0 result, but there were a lot of own goals and a lot of changes. They weren’t flowing. Slovakia had given up. Croatia 2-1.
France vs Switzerland
You know France haven’t been convincing. I don’t know what it is with the French, but they don’t seem to be on top form. I’m going to go with France to win though. You know there’s a lot of quality still there. It’s a bit too much to ask Xherdan Shaqiri to score another brace against the French. France wins 3-0.
England vs Germany
The big one! England vs Germany. I think the Germans are going to run out as the winners. I don’t think England are in any kind of form. I know they have the quality to win the game. I know they can suddenly step up for this game, but I just think the Germans are coming out of that group looking okay. Sadly for the English fans, I’m going with Germany 2-1.
Sweden vs Ukraine
The Swedes are like a machine, aren’t they? Everyone knows their job. Ukraine were lucky to get through. I’m going to go, very tight – not a great game, Sweden 1-0.
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*Odds subject to change. Odds correct at time of publishing.