The Euro 2016 Group stage is done and dusted we take a look at the teams that have progressed and a glimpse into what to expect.
The Minnows have joined the tournament favorites
This week has seen Northern Ireland, Hungry, Ireland and Iceland book their spots in the round of 16. Northern Ireland managed to shock the already qualified Italian team with a one nil victory on Wednesday night. There were similar scenes in the Group F encounter between Austria and Iceland. The match looked like it would be destined for a draw till the final minutes of the game when Iceland managed to score the winner and send them as runners up of the group and a tie with England on the 27 of June. What has been encouraging amongst the so called ‘smaller’ teams participating in these European Championships has been the collective fighting spirit and cohesion seen in teams such as Hungry and Iceland. With odds against them they managed to come together and produce results, making the next round even more interesting.
Tournament Favorites and Dark Horses
It has not been smooth sailing so far from the tournament favorites to say the least. Among the big nations it can be stated that only the host nation France have lit up the competition with their performances. Germany have produced the results however they have struggled most notably in attack with three goals scored in total. Spain have had their fair share of difficulty with two wins and a loss, similar results with Italy and Belgium who have suffered defeats. Portugal managed three straight draws to sneak into the next round and will want to turn things around. Poland, Switzerland, Croatia and Wales are dark horses and could deliver upsets as the tournament continues. We are yet to see the true colors of these teams and the round of 16 should be sure to deliver just that.
Tournaments such as the Euros call for Big performances from players equal to the task. We have been blessed to see a couple of players who have arrived and made their presence known. One of the players to hit the ground running has been Dimitri Payet of France. His performances have been reminiscent of his form this past season and his two goals so far have been crucial. Gareth Bale has been Wales’s poster boy and has lead the country with three important goals, two direct from free kicks. His form has been scintillating thus far and a stand out performer thus far. Other notable key performers have been Spain’s Alvaro Morata and Andres Iniesta, Portugal’s Nani and Cristiano Ronaldo and Slovakia’s Marek Hamsik. We hope to see other superstars such as Paul Pogba, Robert Lewandowski, Wayne Rooney and Kevin De Bruyne light up France as we enter the next round.