The group stages of Euro 2020 are behind us now and later today, the round of 16 will begin! We have said goodbye to some nations, the likes of North Macedonia and Russia and not to mention Scotland too. Meanwhile though, sixteen sides have progressed and there are some huge matchups from the off. England versus Germany at Wembley, Belgium facing off with Portugal in Seville- it’ll be an enticing watch left, right and centre and here is a round of 16 preview…
Wales vs Denmark
Scotland may have crashed out of the groups but that doesn’t mean England are the only home nation featuring in the round of 16. Wales picked up four points from their first two groups meaning that their inevitable loss to Italy in the third game didn’t make any real difference. They face another difficult trip, this time out to Amsterdam to face the rallying Danes. After the Eriksen incident, Kasper Hjulmand’s side are as united as ever and with many neutrals rooting for Kasper Schmeichel and co, Robert Page’s boys will be up against it yet again.
Italy vs Austria
The second game today will see group A’s untouchable team Italy finally depart home soil, the capital of England being the destination. Wembley will host Mancini’s side as they go up against an Austrian side that has gone under the radar really. The Dutch topped their group and were certainly the better side when the pair met, but that doesn’t take away from what they could achieve. They have the occasional spark of brilliance and that will be needed if they are to beat Gigi Donnarumma who is yet to concede a goal.
Netherlands vs Czech Republic
Talking of Frank De Boer’s side and their knockout life will also get underway away from their usual base, the Puskas Arena in Budapest welcoming the Netherlands and Czech Republic in the round of 16. The Netherlands were one of three sides to compile all nine points and despite defensive frailties being evident, their attacking prowess makes them strong favourites. Memphis Depay and Wijnaldum are both on the move and the pair have linked up well this summer, Patrick Schick on the other side has hardly struggled thus far though!
Belgium vs Portugal
There are two standout games in the round of 16 in terms of star-power and the first of this will see the reining champions in action. It has been five years since Portugal lifted the title but Ronaldo is still thriving and with the likes of Ruben Dias, Joao Felix and Diogo Jota coming to the fore in that time, they have just as good a chance this time around. They will be facing Belgium’s golden generation in this monster clash and there is seemingly no better way to round off the weekend. Ronaldo and Romelu Lukaku are in a golden boot battle and with De Bruyne back and fully fit, as long as their ageing defence doesn’t disappoint, Roberto Martinez’s side can offer a huge threat to anyone really.
Croatia vs Spain
Next to a pair of footballing giants in their own right and this, in my eyes, could be the game to throw a shock in the mix. The Spain side of a decade ago were out of this world and they were truly impenetrable, meanwhile Croatia have done their country proud under Zlatko Dalic recently. They of course knocked England out of the World Cup semi-final before losing to France in the final and whilst age is certainly an issue, they are done just yet. Modric’s goal against Scotland was something special and in general they performed very well, on the other hand; Luis Enrique’s side failed to impress with two opening draws. They may have obliterated Slovakia but they were very poor and it seems inconceivable that Croatia would put in an equally underwhelming display.
France vs Switzerland
France were many people’s favourites coming into this tournament but after they dropped points twice in the group stage, could they be in for a round of 16 upset? Probably not. Switzerland haven’t looked too bad to date and they’re consistently there or thereabouts at these tournaments, but it seems very unlikely that Deschamps’ men won’t make a deep run into the competition. Left back is an issue with Lucas Digne and Hernandez both being injured whilst Ferland Mendy and Theo Hernandez didn’t make the squad but they should still have enough to see of the Swiss, Breel Embolo being one of their standout players in their three games prior.
England vs Germany
Penultimately then to the other of the two mouth-watering ties as England meet Germany at their beloved Wembley Stadium. This is considered by most as a rivalry of sorts for the history the two share, whether it be the 1966 success for the Three Lions or the Germans’ seeing off Southgate and co at Euro ’96. Germany were superb against Portugal but either side of that didn’t look great against France and Hungary whilst England have thrown up a lot of surprises. The squad at Southgate’s disposal is very top heavy yet defensive stability has been his bottom line, no goals being conceded in the groups but only two being scored at the other end. Which of these big hitters will fail to make it past the round of 16 in Joachim Low’s last hurrah?
Sweden vs Ukraine
If us England fans haven’t just watched the Germans get another one up on us then we’ll have a keen interest in the final game of the round of 16, the winner of it being the next side in England’s war-path. Sweden will meet Ukraine at Hampden Park in Glasgow and this is arguably one of the hardest ties to call, both sides probably exceeding most people’s predictions. Starting with the Swedes who beat Poland, Spain and Slovakia to top spot with their defensively resolute structure shining through in two of the three games. Meanwhile the likes of Yarmolenko, Yaremchuk and Atalanta’s Ruslan Malinovskyi have linked up well under Ukrainian legend Andriy Shevchenko to provide entertainment game after game. Sweden may just edge this one with their know-how coming to the fore but no outcome would be able to be deemed as a surprise.
There it is then, a preview of the round of 16 games to come. Stay with us here at WD throughout the Euros and into the new season- why not read my latest TOTW piece?