Accipicchia! Meine Güte! Probably the two best teams of the Euro tournament had to battle each other in the quarterfinal. After 120 minutes full of tactical brilliance, passion and drama, Germany won the penalty shootout and sent Italy home.
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.
England crashed out of the EUROs in typically-English fashion as they lost 1-2 to an underestimated Icelandic team. Despite starting the game well, with a goal and some decent play in possession, the team were held back by some inappropriate mid-game changes from Hodgson.
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.