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Euro round of 16 predictions

Euro 2016
Euro 2016

After a thrilling group stage, the round of sixteen is now upon us. The top two teams in each group as well as the four best 3rd placed teams have advanced. There have been surprises and upsets and surely, more are to come in the knock-out rounds. Here are my predictions for the round of 16 match-ups.

Switzerland vs Poland: Both teams have star power with Xherdan Shaqiri and Robert Lewandowski respectively. However the Swiss team has left some doubts in my mind after that 1-1 draw with Romania. On the other hand, they were able to produce a draw with the hosts, France. On their side, Poland seems to have some trouble scoring goals but with a world class striker like Lewandowski up top, that can all change in an instant. Prediction: Poland

Croatia vs Portugal: This match will definitely be one of the more high profile affairs on their side of the draw. Portugal led by Ronaldo have left many questions unanswered about their ability to win versus talented teams. For all of Ronaldo's moaning about low quality defensive teams, he had trouble breaking them down. Croatia is full of confidence. They have star names of their own like Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic. More impressively, Croatia was able to beat reigning champions Spain without their best player, Modric. Prediction: Croatia

Wales vs Northern Ireland: It comes as a surprise to many to see both of these small nations make it to the knock-out round. It came as an even bigger surprise to see Wales win their group ahead of England. Northern Ireland qualified as a best 3rd after beating Ukraine 2-0. I believe that the Welsh team with Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey simply have too much talent for a squad like Northern Ireland. Prediction: Wales

Hungary vs Belgium: Hungary put on a show Wednesday against Ronaldo and friends. The small landlocked nation put on an offensive show by scoring 3 times but their defense did not hold up their end of the bargain since they conceded 3 times. Belgium has not been dominant in the group stage with a loss to Italy and a slim win over Sweden. However, they showed their true selves in their 3-0 win over the Republic of Ireland. I believe that Belgium's talent simply runs too deep for the Hungarians to have a chance. Prediction: Belgium

Germany vs Slovakia: The Germans have one of the most talented squads in the Euro with the likes of Manuel Neuer, Jerome Boateng, Thomas Muller and Mesut Euzil. Even though Germany did not lose in the group stage, some questions can be asked of their goal scoring abilities since they only scored 3 times in 3 matches. However, I do not think that Slovakia have the talent to worry the German back line. I can see this being the game in which Germany truly unleashes its full attacking potential. Prediction: Germany

Italy vs Spain: The finalists in Euro 2012 are meeting in Euro 2016's group stage. This is definitely the most anticipated match of the the round of 16. Italy have proven their defensive prowess in the match versus Belgium. They have a wealth of talent behind the ball with Gianluigi Buffon in nets and Giorgio Chiellini on defense. However, they do not have much talent in the attacking positions. On their side, Spain have a strong goalie in David de Gea and a world class center back with Sergio Ramos but unlike Italy, Spain have big names in the midfield like Cesc Fabregas and Andres Iniesta as well as the promising Alvaro Morata up top. I call for a repeat of the 2012 final but by a closer score line. Prediction: Spain

France vs Republic of Ireland: The host nation qualified for the knock-out round as the 1st placed team in group A. In the group stage, France not only scored but proved that they can score up until the final whistle. Their impressive depth and the home crowd make them an extremely daunting opponent for the Irish. However, Ireland is coming off the back of one of the nation's most important footballing moments after their dramatic win over Italy to qualify for the round of 16. In that match, the Lads in Green proved they can contend with European royalty. Prediction: France

England vs Iceland: England won only one of their group stage matches (versus Wales), the two other matches finished as draws. Over the course of qualifying, England had trouble finding the back of the net with only 3 goals in 3 games despite having the Premier Leagues leading goal scorers, Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy. On the other hand, Iceland have proven their ability to defend. The surprise team of the tournament has limited the likes of Portugal to only one goal. I see England's goal scoring woes as well as Iceland's exemplary defending creating problems for Roy Hodgson's squad. I personally see a 0-0 score line culminating in penalty kicks where England's experience wins it for them. Prediction: England