After two agonizing days with no football EURO 2016 is back with a bang today as the knockout stages get underway. There are three last 16 games today with some brilliant games in prospect. Here’s your preview of today’s fixtures.
Group A and C runners-up Switzerland and Poland face off this afternoon it what will be a tight encounter. Switzerland won their opening game against Albania and then drew with Romania and France. This Swiss side had lacked a killer touch in front of goal and that could prove costly today. Poland have yet to concede a goal at this years tournament and will be happy with the narrowest of wins. They defeated both Northern Ireland and Ukraine 1-0 while also drawing with Germany to make it this far. Striker Robert Lewandowski has yet to get on the score sheet but if he is on form today he will cause havoc in the Swiss defence. This will be a narrow game with only a goal separating the sides. I wouldn’t rule out extra-time in this one.
Two EURO debutants face off this evening when Wales take on Northern Ireland. Wales topped Group B thanks to wins over Slovakia and Russia. The Welshmen were very close to earning a draw against England before a late goal saw them lose out narrowly. The sides drew 1-1 in a friendly in March but with a quarter-final place at stake this game will be anything but friendly. Northern Ireland lost 1-0 to both Poland and Germany but a 2-0 win over Ukraine saw them progress. Goalkeeper Michael McGovern has single-handedly kept the Green and White army in the tournament and will be crucial to their further progression. Gareth Bale has spearheaded the Welsh side and is the competitions joint-leading scorer. Wales looked very strong in their 3-0 win over Russia and would be favourites to win today. Both sets of fans have been incredible so far and will no doubt create a special atmosphere inside the Parc des Princes this evening.
Croatia surprisingly beat Spain to claim top spot in Group D that sees them take on Group F’s third placed finishers Portugal. Croatia also defeated Turkey and drew with the Czech Republic to top the group. Luka Modric, Ivan Perisic and Ivan Rakitic have been outstanding players for Croatia while Portugal have struggled to get up and running. Iceland were able to come from behind to earn a draw while Austria also held Portugal. Hungary forced the Portuguese to play football resulting in a 3-3 draw. Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani have scored Portugal’s four goals so far in the competition but face a tough Croatian defence tonight. Croatia are dark horses and have enough talent and ability to send Portugal home tonight. This is my pick of the three games and should be a brilliant game of football.
There is your preview to today’s games. Enjoy the football and be sure to check back here for full match reports on all the games.