Euro 2020 is finally up and running, showing soccer fans that delay is not always denial. Backdated by a full year because of covid, UEFA took extra measures to ensure the competition is hitch-free. One of such measures is staging the competition in 11 different countries to limit the influx of tourists into a single country. This decentralized nature also allows football fans to attend matches and get a chance to see the biggest games in their home country.
The group stage fixtures brought lots of firepower and entertainment. Goals have flowed without brakes, with several teams waiting to the very last to confirm their qualification status for the next round. Sixteen teams have now qualified for the next round, which kicks off on the 26th of June, and is hosted by seven European countries. Read on as soccer expert Kate Richardson analyses the Euro 2020’s round of 16.
The Knockout Round
Qualification for the knockout round is the same as last time out, as the top two teams in each of the groups advance automatically. They are then joined by four of the best third-placed teams, taking the tally to sixteen teams. While teams like Belgium and the Netherlands already secured their knockout spots, some groups were undecided until the last kick of the final games. One of such groups was Group F, where the battle for knockout places went on until the dying minutes of the game. Defending champions Portugal were drawn in the same group as world champions France, Germany, and co-hosts Hungary, creating the proverbial group of death.
While France had defeated Germany, they were held to a draw by Hungary and needed a result against Portugal to confirm their place in the next round. On the other hand, Portugal defeated Hungary but lost to Germany, so they had it all to play for against France. Germany’s loss to the french in their first group game served as a wake-up call, and they followed that up with a 4-2 thumping of Portugal, placing them on equal points with the defending champions. Hosts Hungary improved on their 3-0 defeat at the hands of the Portuguese to draw against France, making it necessary for the Germans and the Portuguese to avoid defeat to secure qualification.
In the end, the final group games ended in stalemates, allowing France, Portugal, and Germany to qualify for the knockout stages. It will be remembered that Portugal qualified as one of the best third-placed teams before going on to win Euro 2016. Elsewhere, the Spanish battled to save face as they went into match day three with two points, in a group where many expected them to dominate. Notable for the absence of Real Madrid and Barca players, the Spanish side drew that first two games with lackluster finishing and defensive frailty. However, they redeemed themselves on matchday three, defeating Slovakia by five goals to nil to take Group E’s second qualification spot.
The sixteen teams currently left in the competition have been drawn against in eight fixtures listed below.
- Wales vs. Denmark (18:00, Amsterdam)
- Italy vs. Austria (21:00, London)
- Netherlands vs. Czech Republic (18:00, Budapest)
- Belgium vs. Portugal (21:00, Seville)
- Croatia vs. Spain (18:00, Copenhagen)
- France vs. Switzerland (21:00, Bucharest)
- England vs. Germany (18:00, London)
- Sweden vs. Ukraine (21:00, Glasgow)
The matches will be played between Saturday, June 26, and Tuesday, June 29, with two fixtures slated for each day. The round of 16 has some mouthwatering fixtures lined up, including Belgium v Portugal – which sees the leading goalscorers in the competition face one another – Croatia v Spain, and England take on Germany. These three games are sure to tickle the fancy of moneybookers betting sites and football fans worldwide as they could pass for cup finals.
So Who Is Likely To Win?
One thing about the European Championship is there is never a shortage of suitors. Several soccer powerhouses make it to the finals annually, and Euro 2020 is no different. While it may be too early to call, several favorites still have their head in the game, and we take a look at some of them below.
- France: Reigning world champions France is one of the major favorites to win the tournament. The two-time winners made it to the final of the last Euros before losing to Portugal in extra time. Their squad is filled with talented players, including Champions league winner Kante, Paul Pogba, Karim Benzema, and Kylian Mbappe. They have faced some top teams like Germany and Portugal at Euro 2020 and performed quite well.
- Portugal: As defending champions, Portugal was always going to feature in any favorite conversation. Their Euro 2020 campaign has gone quite well, thanks largely to the performance of Cristiano Ronaldo, who leads the tournament’s scoring charts with five goals. However, their quest to defend Europe’s premier crown faces the giant hurdle of the Belgian team in the round of 16.
- Belgium: Belgium’s current crop of players has often been touted as its golden generation of soccer stars. Starring the Hazard brothers, Kevin De Bryne and Romelu Lukaku, they blazed through the group stages with style, qualifying with a game in hand. Lukaku is joint second on the top scorers’ list and will be instrumental in his country’s charge for glory. They face the Portuguese on Sunday in Seville and will have to dig deep to stop the tournament’s highest goalscorer.
- Germany: Due to their soccer pedigree, Germany is considered one of the favorites in any tournament. With Serge Gnabry and Kai Havertz in form, the Germans have enough firepower to ride on to the latter stages.
Predicting the winner of a tournament at this stage is quite difficult, particularly as the top five goalscorers are still in the running. Football lovers and punters can join the conversation about likely winners on this page. You can also find a detailed analysis of moneybookers betting sites on the Mightytips website.