Euro 2016 action resumes today as the quarter final commences in full effect. Eight teams are left to duke it out for the title.
Tournament favourites Spain and perennial under-acheivers England have been eliminated.
Spain lost to a highly disciplined Italian team while England exited the competition after losing to minnows Iceland.
Host nation France marched to the quarter final courtesy of a slim 2-1 victory over Republic of Ireland.
Here is a brief summary of what happened in the 2nd round of Euro 2016
Switzerland 1-1 Poland (4-5 Switzerland lost on penalties)
Wales 1-0 Northern Ireland
Croatia 0-1 Portugal (After extra time)
France 2-1 Republic of Ireland
Germany 3-0 Slovakia
Hungary 0-4 Belgium
Italy 2-0 Spain
Iceland 2-1 England
Quarter-finals Matches (GMT)
June 30 (Thursday) Poland vs Portugal (8:00pm)
July 1 (Friday) Wales vs Belgium (8:00pm)
July 2 (Saturday) Germany vs Italy (8:00pm)
July 3 (Sunday) France vs Iceland (8:00pm)
The match between Germany and Italy is highly anticipated as both teams have been impressive and it is quite unfortunate that they would have to face each other as early as the Quarter-finals.
Prior to the start of the tournament not much was expected of the Azzuri but their convincing victory over pre-tournament favourites Spain has silenced their critics, if they are to scale through to the semi-finals they would have to defeat the German side who are the defending world champions and the only team yet to concede a goal in the tournament.
Italy will be without the services of Thiago Motta who is suspended and there are doubts over Daniele De Rossi (thigh) and Candreva fitness as they were unable to train with the team, this is sure to give Antonio Conte a selection headache.
The Germans have failed to defeat the Italians in their last 8 competitive matches losing 2-1 courtesy of a Mario Balotelli brace the last time they faced each other in a competitive match in Euro 2012 but that has not deterred the German side who are filled with confidence ahead of their match against the Italians, Toni Kroos was quoted as saying “It doesn’t mean anything to me that we have never beaten Italy in a big tournament” and their performance so far seems to back his statement up.
If they are make it to the quarter finals they would need Draxler, Gomez and Ozil who have been instrumental for the Germans to perform at their best because anything less would lead to a defeat for them.
Portugal are to yet to win a game in the tournament in 90 minutes nevertheless they are through to the quarter finals where they would tackle Poland.
Cristiano Ronaldo recently became the first player to ever score in four European Championship tournaments, he has scored 8 goals and is set to create another record if he can surpass Micheal Platini record of 9 goals, but that would prove to be meaningless if he can’t overcome the stubborn Polish side and make it through to the Semi-finals.
Wales match with Belgium promises to be exciting as the Welsh team will be hoping to reach the semi-finals of the competition, Gareth Bale who is arguably the best player of the tournament will be hoping to score more goals to help his team progress to the semi-finals of the tournament.
France will be hoping to spoil the party of the Iceland team that produced the shock of the tournament when they eliminated England, the host nation would hope that star player Dimitri Payet is in sublime form.
Payet has started 3 out of 4 matches and scored 2 goals. Payet is definitely one of the crucial players for France and if they are to overcome the Irish team, the West Ham man will have to turn in an excellent performance.
Antoine Griezmann started this tournament a little rusty but his performance has improved as the tournament has progressed, his brace against Republic of Ireland helped to seal France 2nd round victory and more will be expected from him against the Iceland side in the quarter finals
Quarter Final Predictions
Poland vs Portugal – Portugal qualifies
Wales vs Belgium – Wales goes through
Germany vs Italy – Germany qualifies
France vs Iceland – France goes through
Semi – Finals predictions
Portugal vs Wales
Germany vs France