The round of 16 at Euro 2016 is now on the books. As expected, there were some upsets but none larger than Iceland beating England. Can the small island nation continue to surprise? Here are my predictions for the quarterfinals as well as a quick return on my round of 16 predictions.
Return on Round of 16:
I was mistaken in three of my previous predictions and within one penalty of being wrong in another.
I expected the match between England and Iceland to be close but I was hoping that the English would come together and prevail over the nation of 340 000 and preserve national pride. This match goes to show that it is not always the most talented squad that leaves with the win.
The Italians surprised with an impressive performance versus Spain, the reigning European champions, and avenged their humiliating 4-0 loss in the 2012 final. Perhaps I have underestimated the Italians.
Portugal's 1-0 win over Croatia was such a boring unexciting game that it does not even deserve to be mentioned.
In the Poland-Switzerland match, I correctly predicted a Polish victory but it came close. Xherdan Shaqiri's magnificent bicycle kick goal for Switzerland forced extra time and penalties. Poland managed to win on penalties and clinched their ticket to the quarterfinals.
Poland vs Portugal: In their match against Germany, Poland proved their ability to stay strong defensively versus star studded opponents. The Poles also have the menacing Robert Lewandowski up top who is primed to explode with a flurry of goals at any moment. On the other hand, Portugal is emerging from one of the most boring matches in recent history. Ronaldo did not seem involved and they took 116 minutes to break down a Croatian squad that was playing extremely poorly. The Portuguese have not impressed me so far in this tournament and I do not see them getting any better versus Poland. Prediction: Poland
Wales vs Belgium: Wales finished 1st of their group and were rewarded by facing an easier opponent in the round of 16. However, Wales was only able to beat Northern Ireland by a score of 1-0. Wales have the extremely talented Gareth Bale but Belgium have equally impressive names like Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne. Also, Hazard has just played his most impressive match and I believe his momentum will carry over to this game. While Wales eked out a 1-0 victory, Belgium overwhelmed Hungary 4-0. I think that Begium's talent and organization will overwhelm Gareth Bale and company aswell. Prediction: Belgium
Germany vs Italy: The Italians are hot off their impressive victory over Spain. They demonstrated that they are well organized defensively but can still press bodies forwards. Even though Italy does not have the biggest offensive names in football, they proved they are still capable of scoring versus talented defences. However, the Germans have an even tougher defence to crack than Spain with Jerome Boateng and Mats Hummels at centerback as well as Manuel Neuer between the pipes. Germany also showed off their impressive offensive fire power in a convincing 3-0 win over Slovakia. Prediction: Germany
France vs Iceland: The host nation came very close to the brink in their 2-1 win over the Republic of Ireland. France was only saved by Antoine Griezmann's goals in the 58th and 61st minutes. Even with the high powered offensive names on the French roster they have had trouble breaking down solid defensive blocks. That inability was visible in France's group stage game versus the organized Swiss and we have all seen how effective the Icelandic defence is. They were able to seriously limit the offensive fire power of Harry Kane, Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo. I once again see Iceland holding a solid defensive block and pushing the French to the brink. However, I believe that the home crowd as well as France's pride will be determining factors in this match. Sadly, I predict that the Icelandic fairy tale will end here. Prediction: France