Euro 2016 predictions: Spain and Italy headline the battles for quarter-final slots
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The round of sixteen of EURO 2016 kicks off today and for some fans, the real tournament has just begun as it has been stripped down to its old number of 16 teams and, unlike a largely forgiving group stage, every match will now have immediate consequence. The groups have set the stage and have also shown us real evidence about each of the remaining teams. So, the big question is; what have we learned so far?
One of the most glaring things we’ve learned from this tournament is that no team has been able to rise, heads and shoulders, above the rest. Spain have scored the most goals from open play (five), but haven’t been the team with the most ball possession, an honour which goes to the Germans with 66.5% per game to Spain’s 63.7%.
Another recurring theme we’ve seen so far in this tournament is late goals. It can be argued that defenses have been solid in this tournament or that the strikers have been woeful, whatever side of the divide you’re on, both arguments are on point. As a combination of the solid defensive displays and a lack of cutting edge would probably explain why there are so many late goals. There have been 69 goals scored so far in the tournament and 15 of those have been scored after the 87th minute, which can be attributed to overworked defenses tiring out and allowing attacks to finally get a chance they can take.
The final observation will be the statistics of some heralded players so far in the tournament. N’Golo Kante has unsurprisingly made the most interceptions, with five per game, while Kevin De Bruyne has made the most key passes on six per game and Toni Kroos has played more passes than anyone else, with a total of 116. The disappointments have come mostly from the forwards, with top scorer in qualifying, Robert Lewandowski failing to muster a single shot on target so far, while Zlatan Ibrahimovic had the most shots without scoring (12) and the duo of Wayne Rooney and Thomas Mueller also haven’t scored yet with 8 shots attempted each.
Of the eight teams that have been eliminated from the competition, Albania should be gleaming with pride, while Sweden, Austria and Russia were all massive disappointments. The Albanians put up solid performances against France and Switzerland despite losing those games, before going ahead to outplay and defeat Romania in their final group game. Sweden had no shot on target in their first two games and were largely unimaginative in front of goal, while Austria, touted as dark horses before the tournament, never even got into their stride and for the Russians, the less said about them, the better.
Today we will preview the fixtures for the round of sixteen and I will give you my tips on all the matches in this round, starting with the first match of the day between Switzerland and Poland. Both teams are unbeaten so far in the tournament, with Poland yet to concede a goal. However, they also don’t score much as both teams only scored two goals apiece in the group stage. Lukasz Fabianski is expected to start in goal for Poland as Wojciech Szczesny remains sidelined with the thigh injury he picked up in the opening game against Northern Ireland, while for the Swiss, teenage sensation, Breel Embolo is expected to keep his place in the attack ahead of the more experienced but misfiring Haris Seferovic . Poland have lost just once in the last ten meetings against Switzerland and I believe they will continue to improve on that record, so my betting tip for this one is an outright win for Poland and Under2.5 goals.
Wales will enter its second ‘battle of Britain’ in this tournament when they tackle Northern Ireland in today’s second game and would be hoping for a better ending and result than their last British battle. The Dragons, who surprisingly topped their group after thrashing Russia 3-0 in their final game, are unbeaten in their last five meetings against Northern Ireland and will hope to continue that run today, with their talisman, Gareth Bale, in sparkling form, scoring in every match he has played so far. Northern Ireland do not boast of a single world class player, but their strength lies in a very robust and organized defense. This game will not lack in Passion and intensity. A double chance bet on Wales and Under2.5 goals will be my tip on this one.
Portugal got into this round off the back of three draws from three games and they will go into their match against Croatia tonight knowing that they would need to start winning if they plan on remaining in France. Cristiano Ronaldo grabbed a brace in the final group game against Hungary and Portugal will hope that the 31-year-old has found his scoring boots for the rest of the tournament. Croatia upset the bookmakers, by beating Spain and finishing top of their group. They have never won against Portugal in three meetings and have also failed to score in each of them; however, the Croats are the form team going into this game and are expected to get their first win against this inconsistent Portuguese team. The safe bet should be a double chance bet on Croatia and Over2.5 goals, but I see a slight upset on this one and my tip is a double chance bet on Portugal and Over2.5 goals.
The hosts were unbeaten in the group stage and will hope to continue their unbeaten run against Ireland in tomorrow’s first game. Coach Didier Deschamps, cannot afford any slip-ups and will have to field the strongest possible eleven. Pogba, Griezmann, Giroud and Payet are all expected to start in his preferred 4-3-3 formation. The last five matches between these teams have produced only three goals and with the way the French have been struggling to break down teams in this competition, we don’t expect this game to be any different. My tip for this one is an outright win for France and Under2.5 goals.
World champions, Germany, will come up against Slovakia in Lille in tomorrow’s second game after finishing top of their group with two wins and a draw, scoring three goals and not letting in any, while Slovakia, qualified as the best placed third-placed team with four points, three goals scored and three goals conceded. The Germans will be wary of the Slovaks as they were well beaten by this team barely one month ago in Augsburg. Clashes between these teams have been close as the Germans have won three of the five meetings against Slovakia, who have won the other two. My tip for this game is an outright win for Germany and over2.5goals.
Belgium started the tournament with a disappointing 2-0 loss to Italy, but they seem to have bounced back from that defeat and will be looking for their third consecutive win and clean sheet in the competition when they face Hungary tomorrow night. The Hungarians are unbeaten in this tournament and were involved in the match with the most goals so far, a 3-3 draw with Portugal, which shows that they can concede as much as they score. Against Belgium, they will need to defend better if they hope to get something out of the game. Belgium are unbeaten in five meetings between these sides, with four wins and a draw and will hope to continue that unbeaten run in Toulouse. My tip for this game is a double chance bet on Belgium, Over2.5 goals and both teams to score.
The final round of matches in this stage will begin on Monday with the most glamorous tie of the round; a repeat of the last championship’s final match, Italy against Spain. Everything seemed to be going according to plan for two-time defending champions, Spain, when it followed up a 1-0 opening win over the Czech Republic with a comprehensive 3-0 thrashing of Turkey. But the concession of a late Ivan Perisic goal to go down to a 2-1 defeat against Croatia meant finishing second and facing the Italians.
For the Azzurris, they will not be happy that their reward for topping Group E is a meeting with Spain, but their pragmatic approach to games may just be well suited for this one. The last time both sides met was in a friendly in March and they shared the spoils in a 1-1 draw. Another close battle seems to be on the cards. My tip for this game is a double chance bet on Spain and Under2.5 goals.
England will take on Iceland in the final match of the round and the English must raise their game, if they are to progress to the quarter-finals. They were very poor in creating clean cut chances and there is every chance for this match to end in a stalemate at the end of full 90 minutes. Iceland will sit deep and defend and try to look for opportunities to launch attacks from that position, which will probably frustrate England. The ‘three lions’ must be very patient if they plan to break down the Icelanders. My tip for this game is a double chance bet on England and Under2.5 goals.
At the end of this round, eight teams will remain after eight matches and your pocket should have gotten fuller by placing your bets on www.bonanzawin.com to win big. In my last piece, 70% of my predictions were correct and that percentage might get higher with these set of fixtures, so quickly visit www.bonanzawin.com to bet on different scenarios for these matches with my tips.
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