In the midst of the busy season, there are several good matches that initially pass under the radar due to the sheer number of fixtures. In this series, our authors analyse some of their favourite games from the 2015/2016 season.
Wales and Belgium contested the second quarter-final of the 2016 European Championship in Lille on Friday evening. Throughout the tournament Wales have established a reputation as one of the strongest outfits in the competition from a tactical perspective. Belgium on the other hand are rightfully seen as a case of misguided talent as they frequently fail to show the levels of performance their players are capable of.
The quarter finals of this year’s European Championship kicked off as Portugal faced Poland in Marseille on Thursday evening. Both sides arrived at the game unbeaten in the tournament so far, however Portugal had not won a single game in normal time yet and Poland had only won their opening game in that time period. What followed was a display somewhat typical of both teams’ performances in the competition thus far.
Bernd Storck’s Hungary took on Belgium in the European Championship round of 16 on Sunday evening. With a squad full of talent Belgium have been labelled dark horses for the competition, however in order to live up to this billing they will need to demonstrate greater team-tactical cohesion than they did in the group stages. Hungary entered the game as one of the unbeaten sides in the competition and one of the highest scorers. They would clearly be no walkover for the Belgians.
Croatia met Portugal in the third round of 16 Euro clash on Saturday evening. As one of the most impressive and unbeaten sides in the group stages Croatia came into the game as favourites. Portugal however posed an interesting threat and despite some average performances in the group stage were another of the unbeaten sides.
Germany met their neighbours Poland at the Stade de France in the 2nd round of the European Championship group stage on Thursday evening. Both teams had won their opening games and went in with an element of security knowing that a draw would virtually guarantee their progress into the next round.
France hosted Romania on Friday night in the opening game of the much anticipated 2016 European Championship. France, as the host nation, qualified without playing a competitive fixture since losing to Germany in the World Cup semi-final. Behind them lies an expectant set of fans and with the French previously winning a World Cup and European Championship on home soil history is on their side.
Two of the major contenders for the Champions League slots in the Bundesliga met at Borussia-Park on Saturday afternoon. Leverkusen secured 3rd spot with their 6 game winning streak but were without the excellent Julian Brandt who had scored in 5 of those games, Kampl and Bellarabi two other big factors in their excellent form. These absences presented Gladbach an opportunity knowing that a win would put them in 4th position with one matchday to go. What followed was a highly intriguing encounter where both sides showed why they are amongst the upper echelon of the Bundesliga.
Fresh from their last gasp Europa League triumph over Liverpool Villarreal travelled to the Mestalla to take on rivals Valencia on Sunday evening. Whilst victory would assure Marcelino’s men a top 4 position and a Champions league qualification round entry, their rivals, meanwhile, have endured a bitter season having even flirted with relegation at times.
Fiorentina hosted table topping Juventus in a tense derby game on Sunday evening. While Juventus were on the verge of winning the Scudetto once again, their bitter rivals were fighting to secure a top 4 position to avoid Europa League qualifiers ahead of next season.