Round of 16 predictions: Euros 2020
June 25th, 2021 | Football
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An exciting group stage with plenty of twists and turns. We saw Italy’s threat, Portugal underwhelm, England’s solidity, Wales’s grit, France’s class and Belgium’s quick link-up play. But now focus turns to the round of 16 stage of the tournament and in this article I’m going to be predicting using both gut instinct and things I’ve seen from every team so far.
Belgium v Portugal:
One of the standout games of this phase of the competition. Two top sides both possessing world-class players who can decide a game with a quality pass, decision or shot. Portugal has underwhelmed so far. Cristiano Ronaldo is the only forward to turn up for them so far and although he can drive a team to success, I’m sure he wouldn’t mind some help. Jota, Fernandes and possibly Bernardo Silva need to step-up and pitch in. Their midfield has often been too negative in my view. Playing Carvalho and Pereira seems unnecessary, especially with a centre-back pairing of Ruben Dias and Pepe. I know there’s a lack of pace at centre-back, but with their quality and reading of the game, along with cover from the full-backs and the shield of either Carvalho or Pereira, I think they’d be fine defensively. Renato Sanches was brilliant against France and deserves to start against Belgium. He’s more positive than Carvalho and Pereira and will drive Portugal forwards creating space for Bruno Fernandes and others in that final-third. Belgium have been brilliant so far. Their only negative being the poor performance against Denmark, but when you have World-Class players like Kevin De Bruyne, you can still win games when you play badly as a team. They’ve looked brilliant going forwards and classy in midfield with the likes of the mentioned De Bruyne along with Youri Tielemans and Axel Witsel. The defence has been caught out on a couple of occasions, but should cope fine with their 3-4-3 system offering plenty of cover, and a decent goalkeeper in Thibaut Courtois.
I think it will be a close game with both teams scoring due to their world-class forwards against solid but questionable of late backlines. I can’t help but think Belgium’s midfield will dictate the game, keep the ball and create overloads in the final-third. I can see Portugal having their moments, but I think Belgium will edge a tight game with plenty of goals.
Prediction: Belgium win. Score Prediction: 3-2
Italy v Austria: Winner: Italy
I can only see one winner here. Italy have been near flawless so far in this tournament. Their defence is experienced with Chiellini and Bonucci, they have a classy midfield with players like Locatelli, Verratti and Barella and have an attack good enough to make any backline in the tournament worry, with the likes of Ciro Immobile and Lorenzo Insigne. Their desire to defend as a team even with a healthy advantage shows the togetherness within the group and what a great job Roberto Mancini has done with this Italy team so far. Austria’s standout players are Alaba, Sabitzer and the returning from injury Konrad Laimer but none of these three are yet to make an impact in this tournament. I personally feel it’s a waste playing Alaba in defence for this Austria team and would like to see him deployed in a midfield double-pivot, where he can dictate the game and allow Sabitzer to push forwards and get more involved in the final-third.
Austria will give everything they have and try to soak up the Italian pressure. But I think this Italy team is patient and simply too good for them and will convincingly win with over 70% possession.
Prediction: Italy win. Score Prediction: 4-0
France v Switzerland: Winner: France
Like Italy v Switzerland, I see a clear winner. France have impressed so far with their desire to attack along with positive play in midfield. I like the midfield three of Kante sitting with Pogba and Rabiot box-to-box. There’s a great balance of defensive stability and threat going forwards with that midfield three. A front three of Griezmann and Mbappe being able do what they please with Benzema leading the line is quite possibly the most dangerous in the tournament. The defence has looked questionable, but solid for the most part with the centre-back partnership of Kimpembe and Varane. I personally don’t rate Hugo Lloris, but I don’t think he’s of any detriment to this France side. As for Switzerland, they’ve done superbly to get to this stage. I predicted they’d finish bottom of their group, but fair play to them getting that third-place spot and beating Turkey in the final game. I believe Shaqiri and Embolo are their only standout players and I think France will be too much for them in every department. I can only see a convincing win for the French.
Prediction: France win. Score Prediction: 3-0
Croatia v Spain: Winner: Spain
A really interesting game and a tough one to call. Both sides are quite similar in the sense they both have patient and relatively experienced midfielders and have both been quite toothless up front. The Spain defence is superior to Croatia’s, but with the way both teams have been attacking so far, that shouldn’t make a big difference, although Spain have just scored five goals against Slovakia, however a lot of that is down to Slovakia being poor, rather than Spain being great. I think both teams will have spells with sustained attacks and pressure. Croatia’s midfield three of Brozovic sitting with Modric and Kovacic box-to-box can keep the ball all day long, but the same can be said for Spain’s midfield three of Busquets sitting with Pedri and Koke box-to-box. With both attacks struggling to impress, I see it being a midfield battle that really decides this game. Both keep the ball well and contain relatively passive playing stiles. I think Pedri could be the advantage for Spain in this game. His drive, vision, energy and quality could be the difference in a passive midfield battle. I think it will be close, but I can see Spain clinching a win, maybe not even within the 90 minutes.
Prediction: Spain win. Score Prediction: 2-1
Sweden v Ukraine: Winner: Sweden
This will be close. I think both teams lack a top player that can make a real difference. Sweden have looked brilliant defensively so far and been a threat going the other way, often on the counterattack with the impressive Isak. Ukraine have made it into the knockout stages, which was surely their goal going into the tournament. Zinchenko is a talented player in midfield and Ukraine do have the in-form Yarmolenko in the final-third, who has been directly involved in three goals in the three games so far. I think it will be a close game decided by fine margins. Sweden’s Isaak is the standout player for me and the one who can drive Sweden forwards and create a chance or score a goal. It won’t be pretty and I can’t see many goals. It may be decided by an individual error or set-piece. I can see Sweden just edging it through some good play from the mentioned Isak.
Prediction: Sweden win. Score Prediction: 1-0.
England v Germany: Winner: England
Probably the standout game of the Round of 16. England v Germany. A classic, the rivalry, the occasion and the feeling of elation the winning country will feel. As an England fan I’m really looking forwards to this game, but I’m going to try and not be biased in this write-up. Both teams have strengths, both teams have weaknesses. The defence of both teams are decent, but lack pace in areas. The Germans have a better midfield, but England have a better attack. I look at that Germany attack and believe England can cope relatively well with Havertz and probably Muller often looking to come towards the ball. With Gnabry often looking to get in behind, it may be wise to play a back-three with Kyle Walker almost man-marking Gnabry. Apart from that, I think England will be comfortable. That German midfield can dictate a game and keep the ball, but are slow and often keep it in ineffective deep areas. If England are patient and allow the Germans possession in areas they can’t hurt the English backline, I think England can outrun Germany and destroy them on the counterattack. Rice, Philips and possibly Mount’s energy will be too much for Kroos and Gundogan and the pace of the England attackers like Raheem Sterling, Bukayo Saka or Marcus Rashford can catch out that back-three and exploit space left by wing-backs. I think Germany will dominate the ball with the aforementioned midfield of Kroos and Gundogan, along with Joshua Kimmich at right-wing-back, which I personally feel is a waste of his talent. But I can see England defending well and making the most of attacking opportunities on the counter or from decent build-up play.
Prediction: England win. Score Prediction: 2-0.
Netherlands v Czech Republic:
I think this will be a closer game than most people think. The Czech Republic have been relatively solid defensively so far. Their midfield double-pivot is there to limit space and offer an attacking threat through Tomas Soucek. Patrik Schick has also been impressive as their no.9, scoring THAT goal against Scotland and having three goals in three group-stage games. The Netherlands have a solid defence including the experienced Daley Blind, impressive Nathan Ake and dominant De Vrij. Dumfries has also impressed me from right-back/right-wing-back with his desire to defend, strength and recent contributions in the final-third by chipping in with a couple of goals. Their midfield is up there with the best in the tournament with Frenkie De Jong and Georginio Wijnaldum. All of that along with just turned Barcelona player Memphis Depay linking-up play and scoring goals, I just think the Netherlands will have too much for the solid Czechs. But it will be tight at times and I’d fancy the Czechs to benefit from set-pieces.
Prediction: Netherlands win. Score Prediction: 2-1
Wales v Denmark:
This will be close. The Welsh have impressed me so far. Their defensive solidity and desire make them a tough team to both score against and beat. They have a hard-working midfield along with quality players going forwards like Gareth Bale and Daniel James who will always be a threat on the counter-attack. This counter-attacking threat being supplied by the classy Aaron Ramsey will give the Welsh a good out-ball when defending and can be a good route to goal. They have tall players, so can also be a threat from set-pieces. Denmark have a good side with a defence including Chelsea’s Christensen and A.C Milan’s Kjaer, both decent centre-backs. They also have Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg who reads the game well and is a good midfielder. But without Christian Eriksen, who’s absence is extremely unfortunate, I feel as though Denmark are just lacking that cutting-edge. Whether they play Yussuf Poulsen or Martin Braithwaite down the middle, they lack a natural goal scorer. I think Denmark will dominate possession, but I think Wales will cope defensively and get joy from counter-attacking situations and set-pieces.
Prediction: Wales win. Score Prediction: 2-0