Firstly, I’m a little bit disappointed that I didn’t go with my head for the predictions of the last round. I knew there would be upsets – I just couldn’t figure out where they would be!
I almost called Croatia and the Dutch to be beaten. So yeah, I don’t know why I didn’t go for it.
It was a fantastic Round of 16! Loads of great games, loads of good goals and even some managers getting it wrong.
Spain vs Switzerland
I’ve been a little bit disappointed with Spain. I’ve watched them against Sweden, where they tried to pass them to death and come out 0-0. In their next game against Poland, they created many chances, but they couldn’t seem to score more than one goal.
Before the game against Croatia, there were many side stories about Alvaro Morata and even some death threats – which were disgusting; it shouldn’t happen. I was desperate for him to score, and he did. They won 5-3, and he probably got the best goal of the game.
It wasn’t a great performance, but Spain will always create chances, and if players from all over the pitch can chip in and score, it will take the pressure off the strikers.
Fantastic game; went to extra time and had the own goal from Unai Simon. You always felt that Spain were in control and that they were going to create chances. It’s just about being clinical – and they did it five times, and it was a fantastic result against the Croatians.
The Swiss, it’s a difficult one to call because you’ve got to think about the euphoria Switzerland felt when they beat France on penalties. They threw everything at the French in the last 10 minutes, the kitchen sink and all, and then they got their reward to take it into extra time and penalties. I thought Granit Xhaka was great on the night. His passing was very influential.
Disappointed with the French in terms of how badly they managed the game. To go 3-1 up is fantastic, but you’ve got to see out the last 15 minutes. Paul Pogba ran around as if he was still enjoying his goal before he got pickpocketed for the second Swiss goal, and it’s just really, really poor.
Didier Deschamps would have been fuming, but you’ve got to look at him too. To change the system and go three at the back. Injuries changed his mindset, and they went 3-4-3, which worked for a bit – but at the end of the game, they didn’t have enough.
It was a great result for the Swiss, but you’ve got to be mindful about how much it has taken out of them.
I just think Spain have got too much. The last two games in which they’ve scored 10 goals and the way in which they’ve got through against Croatia. With Alvaro Morata getting on the score sheet and becoming a hero again, Koke also on good form, Pedri in the middle and Sergio Busquets back – I can’t really see anything past Spain.
I’m going to 3-1 for Spain.
Belgium vs Italy
Italy have come into the tournament with a fantastic record, and it’s continued throughout. They conceded one goal and remain unbeaten in 31 games. Even against Austria, who set up well, tactically difficult to beat, well organised and honest – they asked questions of Italy, but the Italians found a way.
The Italians prodded and probed. At times it wasn’t pretty, but they found a way to win. Roberto Mancini has got them all tuned in. They’re a fantastic outfit playing for one another, and they’re very dangerous. If they’re going to win this tournament, they’re going to do it the hard way. To get past Belgium and then probably Spain in the semi-finals will be tough, but they’ve got strength enough in their squad to do it.
I’ve been a bit disappointed with Belgium – I’ve got to be honest. They’ve come through the group stages unscathed, and then Portugal asked a lot of questions of them. I just thought they lost their discipline in the second half. They went in 1-0 with Thorgan Hazard scoring a goal, and they came out a different team.
They knew Portugal would throw everything at them and ask them questions, but they just couldn’t keep the ball, and with all the quality they’ve got on the pitch, Kevin de Bruyne, Romelu Lukaku and Eden Hazard. They couldn’t keep the ball and ask any questions of the Portuguese.
I actually felt sorry for Portugal. I thought they had a right go in the second half. Ronaldo was excellent. They made some really good changes. Unfortunately, they hit the post as well, and on another night, it could have been a different result. Belgium held firm and saw out the challenge to come through as 1-0 winners.
The big question for the Belgium team is that Edin Hazard and Kevin de Bruyne went off injured, so it’s whether they will be back fit and able to play against the Italians.
I think Belgium will be a little bit tired, and the Italians are going to nick it. I think it’s going to be really, really tight – I’m going to Italy 1-0 win!
Czech Republic vs Denmark
The Danes are the neutrals favourites because of what’s happened with Christian Eriksen, and I can totally understand that, but they’ve actually been really good.
From the very first defeat against Finland – which you can understand – Denmark have rallied, had home support, and they’ve grown and unified as a team and become really strong.
For the first 20 minutes, the Welsh needed to score, they needed to take advantage of the good start they had, but they didn’t. Gareth Bale got out a few shots, and Aaron Ramsey looked instrumental, but then they sort of ran out of ideas. After that, the Danes came into it and looked strong. For the last hour of the game, I was very impressed with Denmark. As I said, they rode the storm, and with the quality they’ve got – you know they’re a really good team. They’ve been doing it without their talisman, Christian Eriksen, which is more testament to the way they played. The Danes look very, very dangerous – they pushed aside Wales 4-0.
The Czechs, like the Danes, have grown into the tournament. They’ve got some good players; Tomáš Souček is the name that stands out. He’s been instrumental in that midfield box-to-box. He nullified Frenkie De Jong when they played the Netherlands, and he took him out of the game. Frenkie De Jong couldn’t get on the ball, couldn’t get the Dutch going. It was all over in 25 minutes, that game. Matthijs de Ligt’s handball and sending off, Donyell Malen going through and missing the 1v1 with the keeper, and then Tomas Holes scored and Patrik Schick getting the second.
The Dutch have gone out. Frank de Boer lost his job. There’s plenty of work for the Dutch to do. But, for the Czechs, they just go marching on. They’ve been rewarded with a tie in which they will feel that they can beat Denmark and cause a bit of an upset.
The Czechs, can they do it?
I’m going to go with my heart. I want Denmark to go through. I think they’ve got enough – just enough – over the Czechs. I’m going to go 2-1 Denmark.
Ukraine vs England
England against Germany was a real tactical affair, wasn’t it?
Nobody wanted to give an inch for the first hour of the game. You can understand due to what was on it, the history and all the talk around the game. Nerves probably got the better of both teams, very edgy, very nervous game. But again, fine margins like the rest of the other games.
It was Timo Werner’s missed opportunity, and then England go on and Score. Thomas Müller goes in 1v1 and misses before Harry Kane tops a great afternoon off for the English and goes and gets that second goal – one that he would have been desperate to score.
All in all, although Gareth Southgate changed the tactics and went three in the back, you’ve got to say he possibly got it right. Quite a pragmatic hour of the game from the English and the Germans before the English came out on top.
Jack Grealish changed the game. He had a lot of space to work with on that left-hand side, especially with Joshua Kimmich pushing forward. You just felt that England had the better bench than Germany going into that last 20 minutes with both managers looking to make changes. Gareth Southgate turns around and sees Phil Foden, Jadon Sancho, Jude Bellingham and all these quality players – and he can bring on Jack Grealish. You just feel like the English had the upper hand, and it turned out that way. The English go through, but they leave Wembley Stadium – they’ve got to go to Rome and face the Ukrainians.
For Ukraine, again, a game that’s gone to extra time. Can they get back, rest up and get back to their best in time? As I said, it’s no Wembley for England; it’s Rome. That’s a neutral ground for both teams. Andriy Shevchenko will be happy, considering they went through in third place and had to wait a couple of days to see who they’ll face. They managed to sneak into the last 16.
They’ve come through against Sweden – a tough game that would have taken a lot out of them. Have they got enough to beat England? Again I think it’s going to be a cagey affair. I don’t think the Ukrainians will want to play defensive and pragmatic. I think Andriy Shevchenko will feel his best opportunity is to go at the English – something I thought Joachim Löw should have done with his German side. I think that Andriy Shevchenko needs to go at England and might get a result. If he doesn’t, the bench will play their part for Gareth Southgate.
It will be interesting to see who he goes with to start the game, how he goes too. Is he going to stick with three at the back or revert to a back four? Will he make personnel changes? Will Jack Grealish start the game?
I actually think that because of the extra time Ukraine has played and all the travelling, I’m going to go England win 3-1.
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*Odds subject to change. Odds correct at time of publishing.