Fri, Jun 24, 9:04am by Staff Writer
Euro 2016 has been the tournament with the late dramatics. Last-minute winners and equalisers have seen fans break down in tears, commentators become YouTube sensations and some surprise teams making it to the last 16.
One thing that has come out of the group stage is that anybody is capable of beating anybody else leaving the competition wide open.
Here is our look at the next round of fixtures and who the bookies think will make it through.
Switzerland v Poland
Saturday June 25, 11pm AEST
Both of these teams went through the group stages unbeaten although neither played the type of football you would think is needed to go on and lift the title. They’ve scored just four goals between them and conceded just one, which means this one could be drab affair.
In terms of a 90-minute result, Centrebet have Poland as slight favourites at $2.60. With Robert Lewandowski up front I can see why as it may take a bit of magic from the Bayern Munich striker to break the deadlock. Don’t write the Swiss off though as they did hold hosts France to a 0-0 draw and could be worth a punt as $3.20 outsiders.
Wales v Northern Ireland
Sunday June 26, 2am AEST
With just a stretch of water separating the two nations and history stretching back thousands of years, this match promises to be every bit as passionate as the England v Wales clash at the group stage. Amazingly Northern Ireland qualified for the second stage despite having lost twice and I feel their luck will run out against a Gareth Bale inspired Welsh side.
Croatia v Portugal
Sunday June 26, 5am AEST
Amazingly Portugal finished third in their group behind Hungary and Iceland. Even with a certain Cristiano Ronaldo in the starting line-up, the bookies simply feel they are not good enough to progress to the quarter finals.
France v Republic of Ireland
Sunday June 26, 11pm AEST
Ok nobody expects the French to be bundled out of this by Ireland, but then again nobody expected Ireland to get out of their group by beating Italy. For me, hosts France are the form team of the tournament and no matter how dogged, organised or workmanlike Martin O’Neil’s boys are I think they have little chance of going through.
Germany v Slovakia
Monday June 27, 2am AEST
The quality of this match will depend on which German side decides to show up. The exciting goal-hungry high-pressing outfit that became World Champions just two years ago or the timid-looking side which limped out their Group to reach the second round of Euro 2016.
If history has taught us anything though, it’s the Germans never play their best football early on in a major tournament. Slovakia should be careful of an onslaught in this one.
Hungary v Belgium
Monday June 27, 5am AEST
Hungary finished top of their group with just one win and two draws in a group that included Portugal. But despite this and the fact they scored six goals across their three matches William Hill still have them as $6.50 outsiders to beat Belgium in normal time.
The Belgians did come out of a tougher group that included Italy, Ireland and Sweden and on paper their squad is far superior. In Romelu Lukaku they have one of the world’s in-form strikers and I don’t think the Hungarians have what it takes to keep him locked up for 90 mins.
Italy v Spain
Tuesday June 28, 2am AEST
This is easily the tie of the round and I can’t help thinking whoever wins this will have the confidence to go on and win the whole thing. Italy have looked the better of the two in the group stage but when you have Andreas Iniesta pulling the strings in midfield you are capable of beating anybody.
The overall qualification market sees Spain at $1.55 and Italy at $2.45.
England v Iceland
Tuesday June 28, 5am AEST
England have once again been frustratingly bad so far. Toothless up front and all too often void of ideas in the middle. Centrebet do have them as $1.53 favourites to get through this in 90 minutes and fans will be hoping for a big win to bust the squad’s confidence. But looking at England’s history at major tournaments picking Iceland at $4.50 to qualify could be the sneaky bet of the round.
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