Saturday 29th June


Switzerland v Italy (5pm)

Italy scraped through by the skin of their teeth. A 98th minute goal from Lazio’s Mattia Zaccagni dumped out Croatia and bailed them out after an underwhelming second half considering what was at stake. Switzerland were denied the chance of topping Group A thanks also to another injury time goal as Niclas Fullkrug netted for Germany, but the Swiss will still be optimistic. Luciano Spalletti will know his side will have to look more threatening if they are to get through as even in their opening group game when they edged out Albania, they were not the most convincing. Add to that the Italians will be without the suspended Riccardo Calafiori in defence. The Swiss have consistently changed their forward line, but the experience and quality Xherdan Shaqiri has along with if they also start Breel Embolo, then that will help significantly you would think. If the likes of Michel Aebischer and Remo Freuler perform in midfield then I can see Switzerland advancing and within 90 minutes too.


Germany v Denmark (8pm)

Germany were humbled to an extent by Switzerland, despite avoiding defeat in their last game enabling them to top Group A. Julian Nagelsmann’s men had really caught the eye with some swift attacking football, encouraged further by being the home nation, they were looking irresistible against Scotland in a 5-1 victory, and for some of their 2-0 win over Hungary. Denmark can look at the vulnerabilities the Germans showed in their encounter with the Swiss and feel that they can really cause them some problems. Denmark made England look particularly average for much of their group game and can draw confidence from that despite the fact they have not won a contest yet as they drew all their group games. In a match that might be tighter than expected, I am going with the creative threat of Jamal Musiala and Florian Wirtz as the two number 10’s to be overwhelming for Denmark and I see Germany going through in normal time, despite missing Jonathan Tah at the back though suspension.


Sunday 30th June


England v Slovakia (5pm)

Whilst England are more likely to send us to sleep rather than entertain, they cannot get much worse from an attacking standpoint. Slovakia have absolutely nothing to lose and that can of course make them more dangerous. The Slovaks beat Belgium in their opening group game and with how deep England have played they will feel they can pressure Gareth Southgate’s team. At the back for Slovakia, Milan Skriniar did not have the best league season with PSG but has done well and Feyenoord’s David Hancko who is naturally a centre back is performing well at left back. In midfield, Napoli’s Stanislav Lobotka can pull the strings and up top Ivan Schranz has 2 goals and will need to be watched. If England do not become more fluid when they go forward, then despite being on the ‘favourable’ side of the draw real problems could emerge later in the tournament. Despite their current flaws, surely, they should have enough to get through. So, I will go with England, however, I feel they will need extra-time.


Spain v Georgia (8pm)

Not only have Spain looked the best of the ‘big’ nations thus far, but they were also the only country that won all their three group games. With qualification already sealed, Rodri was not risked in the 1-0 triumph over Albania as he already has a booking and with him being so vital for Luis De La Fuente the rest will be critical. Spain’s mix of keeping possession well and then being rapid in wide areas with Nico Williams and Lamine Yamal is causing massive issues for the opposition. Saying that, Georgia has their own problematic wide man in Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, who in this formation is accompanying Georges Mikautadze centrally at whatever chance he can get, and Spain will have to be mindful of the pace the Georgians can attack at. Mikautadze is the top scorer in the tournament with 3 goals in 3 games. I will go with a Spain win but this may be harder than expected and could be one of the highlights of the last 16.


Monday 1st July


France v Belgium (5pm)

On paper this should be the tie of the round, so hopefully it does not turn out to be a cagey affair. Belgium have only really displayed any real glimmer of quality in their win over Romania. If Romelu Lukaku’s luck changes for the better than things will look so much different for them, and France may well be the team to succumb. The French in glimpses have looked dangerous, nonetheless they are yet to score from open play, and were fortunate to not concede against the Netherlands in their second group game due to a controversial offside decision. I expect Antoine Griezmann to orchestrate after being rested in the draw with Poland and Kylian Mbappe will be thriving. N’Golo Kante has been the most important player for Didier Deschamps thus far as he has recovered well consistently when they have pushed up too far as a team as well as making progressive runs with the ball. Belgium will give their all, but France I envision will be too much for them after extra time.


Portugal v Slovenia (8pm)

Portugal’s squad looks frightening on paper, yet some of the squad players got a runout against Georgia and they were punished. For all his efforts Cristiano Ronaldo has yet to score, even though he started the third group game unnecessarily as qualification had already been confirmed. Portugal manager Roberto Martinez is unlikely to him like his predecessor Fernando Santos did in the last World Cup, but the like of Diogo Jota and Goncalo Ramos will be chomping at the bit to start should he do it.  Slovenia drew all their group games to edge through in 3rd place in Group C and it will not be easy for the Portuguese to break them down with the experienced Jan Oblak in goal. Benjamin Sesko and Andraz Sporar will keep Portugal’s defence busy however, the Portuguese will advance in normal time.


Tuesday 2nd July


Romania v Netherlands (5pm)

Romania produced one of the performances of the competition to beat Ukraine 3-0 in their first group game. The Romanians went on to unpredictably top Group E on goal difference as everyone finished level on 4 points. The likes of Ianis Hagi and George Puscas were expected to feature prominently if they were to advance, however their playing time has been limited. It has therefore been Dennis Man, Razvan Marin and Nicolae Stanciu who have produced for them. Netherlands were denied a possible victory over France, otherwise they look like they can be exposed at the back unless Virgil van Dijk in particular steps things up. They were turned over by Austria in their last group game and with how quickly Romania have sometimes moved the ball this tie could be quite interesting. Cody Gakpo has been a bright spark up front for the Dutch, and he could be the one to push them over the line. I am going to spice things up here however, and go for the upset, Romania to go through and can do it in 90 minutes I believe.


Austria v Turkey (8pm)

Ralf Rangnick has silenced his doubters since taking charge of Austria. Even with the absence of captain David Alaba, Austria are showing how good a side that they can be. The Austrians shocked everyone as they topped Group D ahead of France and the Netherlands, despite losing to the French in their first group game. They press well as a team and are the second highest scorers in the tournament so far with 6. Turkey beat Georgia 3-1 in arguably the match of the competition, but they were then beaten 3-0 by Portugal as their defending left a lot to be desired. Vincenzo Montella’s men bounced back to win very late on against the 10-men of the Czech Republic; however, they are still conflicting me regarding what they can produce in the knockout stages. If the likes of wonderkid Arda Guler and Hakan Calhanoglu flourish and they can hold out defensively the Turks have a chance, but I am going with Rangnick’s Austria to go through on penalties.


Daniel Dwamena