When there are winners, there have to be losers. Antonio Conte and his Italy team outsmarted Spain in one of the best matches of the Euro tournament. While Italy will play Germany in the quarterfinals, a generation of Spanish players is now one step closer to riding into the sunset.
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.
After failing to convert their chances against Northern Ireland, we saw a much more clinical performance from Germany as they eased passed Slovakia in the first knockout game with a dominant performance.
The Republic of Ireland booked themselves a place in the first knockout round of Euro 2016 with Robbie Brady’s last-gasp winner against Italy. Despite unimpressive displays from hosts France during the group stages, the Irish were still heavy underdogs to progress to the next round.
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.
Wales advanced to the quarter finals of Euro 2016 with a 1-0 victory over Northern Ireland on Saturday. Chris Coleman’s side, who attracted praise during the group stage with tactically impressive performances against Slovakia, England, and Russia. It was Northern Ireland, however, who impressed the most in Paris, as they prevented Wales from asserting themselves on the game with an impressive defensive display.
Switzerland and Poland clashed in the first knockout round of Euro 2016, with neither team making any dramatic changes to their starting line-up or system.
Although the grace of Luka Modric was not to be pitted against that of Busquets and Iniesta, we were still given one of the better games of EURO2016 in one of the first matches between two competent sides.
Whilst England made an impressive performance in their final group-match, they were unable to mark against a deeply-set Slovakia defence. Despite the efforts of Hodgson’s side, Wales finished top of the group after a dominant victory over Russia though England’s poor conversion rate was the decisive factor in the standings.
The encounter between Switzerland and France didn’t become an all-time classic. Instead, the match ended in a 0-0 draw that most people will remember because of ripped shirts, a busted ball and slipping players.