Summing Up the Euro 2016 Group Stage Ahead of the Knockout StagePublished June 23, 2016 by Sol FH
The Euro 2016 Group Stage is over and only 16 teams remain in the Euro 2016, here's a breakdown of what transpired in the Group Stage and what's expected in the knockout stages.
For two weeks now, we have been treated to incredibly high levels of European Soccer, but after last night only 16 teams remain in the battle for a spot in the quarter-finals. The first knockout round starts on Saturday, and with the best teams left, and some surprise teams making the cut, we are surely in for some amazing matches.
There were really no surprises in Group A. Host nation France went through to the Last 16 in style with seven points and they still look like they could make it all the way to the Final. Even with their draw with Switzerland in the third round of the Group Stage, France are playing well and do not suffer from a ton of yellow cards like other teams. Switzerland also qualified for the Final 16 with five points and they are on the weaker side of the bracket.
One of the biggest surprises of the tournament, Wales successfully won Group B with six points and solid play throughout the Euro so far. Wales is now on the weak side of the bracket and will face Northern Ireland on Saturday at 17:00 GMT. England just didn't play well in the first and third matches of the Group Stage and ended with draws to Russia and Slovakia respectively. Now, on the stronger side of the bracket, the Three Lions will face an easier match in the final 16 against surprise story Iceland, on Monday at 20:00 GMT.
The third place team Slovakia also made it through, but will most-likely not be advancing any further, as they face Germany in the Round of 16. Any team that drew the German squad would probably be ousted in the last match, but Slovakia should be happy they've made it this far.
Germany and Poland made it through to the next round, each with seven points, but Poland is on the weaker side of the bracket. The Polish team will face Croatia on Saturday at 20:00 GMT, which will be a difficult match, but not out of their reach. The surprise story of the tournament, Northern Ireland will also be advancing after three points and goal difference gave them the berth.
Croatia beat Spain for top spot in the group, and are on the weaker side of the bracket. Croatia made it through with seven points, while the Spaniards only took six after losing the group stage third round to Croatia 2-1. Croatia have drawn Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal team on the Round of 16, which will be played on Saturday at 20:00 GMT. Spain have drawn the Italians for their next match, which could easily be a championship final on any other day. Their match will be played on Monday at 17:00 GMT.
Italy and Belgium both made the Final 16 with little trouble and six points each. Italy's goal difference put them into first place, but Belgium has definitely got the better draw against Hungary on Sunday at 20:00 GMT and the Italians must face Spain, as previously mentioned.
In the final minutes of last night's match, it looked like Ireland were going home. It was a header from Robbie Brady that took Ireland over the Italians and secured them a place in the Final 16.
The last group in the Euro saw three teams make it through. Hungary took top place in the group, ahead of Iceland, playing in their first ever major tournament. Portugal barely made it, but a 3-3 draw with Hungary and two spectacular goals from Ronaldo was a enough to secure their berth. Hungary faces Belgium this Sunday at 20:00 GMT, Iceland must beat England on Monday at 20:00 and Portugal plays Croatia this Saturday at 20:00 GMT.
For all of the matches, punters have betting odds at top sportsbooks like 888 Sports, 10Bet Sports and the popular Bitcoin sportsbook Sportsbet.io which has seen a surge of activity since the Euro kicked off.