The group stage has ended and eight nations have now been sent home – here’s a look at how I think the remaining 16 will get on:
1. Germany (6.0 to win Euro 2016)
With Spain dropping into the same half of the draw as Germany to potentially set up a quarter-final between my favourite two, Germany’s odds have risen. Joachim Löw may have received criticism back home for only beating Northern Ireland 1-0 but make no mistake about it, they created enough chances to win 1-0. Thomas Müller hit the bar, post and missed a sitter in the first half alone whilst Mario Gómez didn’t have his shooting boots on either. They can find them in the second round versus Slovakia when the world champions show England how to beat a team that park the bus,
2. Spain (7.6 to win Euro 2016)
The defending champions would have had a favourable route to the final and been the bookmakers’ favourites if they had have avoided a late defeat to Croatia. Instead it’s a second round clash versus Italy with the winner likely to face Germany in the quarter-final. I’m favouring Germany based on Spain’s defending in their last match but it really could go either way. Regardless, there’s a great arb to be had by backing both nations right now. I do think Spain will be fine against Italy.
3. Croatia (4.5 to reach final)
Croatia showed how good they really are when they came from behind to beat Spain and top Group D after Ante Čačić made five changes to his starting lineup which included missing Luka Modrić through injury. The only nation on their side of the draw that I can really see preventing Croatia reaching the final is Belgium whom they are on course to meat in the semi-finals. I can’t see Portugal causing these too many problems in the second round – Portugal have a poor defence and Croatia have been creating chances left, right and centre so far in France.
4. France (Croatia/France 6.3 to reach semi-finals)
I’m still not convinced France are good enough to win Euro 2016 – they have been ahead for a combined eight minutes in their three group stage matches for starters. They do have a favourable draw to the semi-finals though which makes the tip above excellent value. Republic of Ireland in the second round and then England or Iceland in the quarter-finals. Dimitri Payet and Paul Pogba are their match winners and although I haven’t been a fan of their defence so far, Hugo Lloris has only faced two shots on target in 270 minutes. They do have Antoine Griezmann still to step up whilst they do have the phenomenal N’Golo Kanté protecting the back four.
5. Belgium (3.05 to reach the final)
Finishing runners-up to Italy has worked wonders for Belgium who have drawn Hungary in the second round whilst the group winners take on Spain. Whilst I wasn’t impressed by them versus Italy at first, in hindsight I wonder if they would have lost if Toby Alderweireld had have cut out Leonardo Bonucci’s halfway line pass. Either way, they bounced back to thrash Republic of Ireland 3-0 and beat Sweden 1-0. I can’t see Hungary being a problem because their defence is woeful and only have two creative players going forward in my mind. Then it’s Wales or Northern Ireland in the quarter-finals. Back them and Croatia to reach the final now is essentially an arb if/when they meet in the semi-final.
In theory I should have these outside the top eight because I cannot see Italy getting passed both Spain and Germany. Sure they defended very well versus Belgium and Sweden but can they keep Spain out for 90 minutes or even 120 minutes? I’m not convinced. They also lack going forward, as shown by having scored only one goal in their last two group games. If they were on the top half of the draw I would have been more positive but I don’t give them a chance of winning Euro 2016 now. They’re still better than many of the remaining 16 teams but luck of the draw didn’t favour them.
Along with Germany, Poland have yet to concede a goal in the tournament. They have only scored two which is a bit of a concern. A tight match is expected in the second round versus Switzerland but surely this is a game where Robert Lewandowski will come to life after failing to test any goalkeeper once in all 270 minutes so far. An outside chance of making the semi-finals but they really need to get their attack firing if they are to cause an upset to reach the final four.
Despite woeful performances and results versus Russia and Slovakia, England got a favourable second round draw versus Iceland but even then we’re anything but guaranteed a quarter-final spot with Roy Hodgson in charge. Should we successfully overcome the underdogs I can’t see Hodgson getting the better of an average French team. England sneak into my top eight after a favourable draw more than anything else.
Tough and intriguing second round draw versus Poland after picking up five points in their group. Got a 0-0 draw versus France in their dull group finale. Switzerland have looked OK in the process but Haris Seferović has been their Achilles heel up front. Start Breel Embolo or Eren Derdiyok surely. They have looked threatening from set pieces which could cause Poland a problem in their next match but even if they do sneak through that I cannot see Switzerland reaching the final four.
Winning Group B set Wales up with an all-British second round tie with Northern Ireland – the team that have had the least possession and fewest shots on goal through three matches. Meanwhile no team has scored more goals than Wales and Chris Coleman’s side have had the most shots on target. Wales have had a nice draw with an underperforming group and then a team that have already lost two games in the finals – a quarter-final is the furthest they’ll go, as I tipped on Premiership Tips pre-tournament.
Still without a win at Euro 2016 but three draws was enough for Portugal to qualify for the second round as one of the best third place teams. It would have been good enough for second in Group F but for Iceland’s stoppage time winner versus Austria. I don’t rate their defence which will be their ungoing versus Croatia in the second round, whilst Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani is what they have going forward. Ricardo Quaresma sucks and João Mário hasn’t done much either.
Group F winners and joint-top scorers in the tournament, Hungary have a tough second round match versus Belgium. Feel free to mock me if they reach the quarter-finals but I still think they’re one of the weakest teams remaining. Gábor Király is vulnerable to crosses (he has Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne and co to deal with) and the defence has conceded four goals already. Balázs Dzsudzsák and László Kleinheisler are the only good players they have going forward in my opinion and Belgium have a good defence.
A stoppage time versus Austria meant they all five debuting nations at Euro 2016 got at least one win and four of them made the second round. Whilst I expect Wales to beat Northern Ireland in a match that guarantees a debutant reaching the quarter-finals, Iceland are the next best hope. You can’t quite write them off versus England as their manager is much better than England’s and they’ve defended well in numbers during this tournament. They’ve also scored in each of their games, four goals in all.
14. Republic of Ireland
Robbie Brady’s late winner versus Italy sets the Republic of Ireland up with a second round tie versus the hosts. It’s the first time they’ve ever made it past the group stage. Now Martin O’Neill has to set his team up to defend against Dimitri Payet and Paul Pogba in a game they are not expected to see much possession or given much hope. Striker Shane Long has worked his socks off but not been much of a goal threat.
15. Northern Ireland
Have to be one of the poorest performers in the history of the European Championships to reach the knockout stages but that’s a result of expanding the competition to 24 nations and giving 16 places in the second round. Defeats versus Poland and Germany could have been a lot higher but for some poor finishing from their opponents. Whilst they do have a chance versus Wales in the second round there have been holes in their defence that I can see Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey exploiting.
Only Wales have beaten Slovakia so far but their four points did come from the underwhelming Russia (2-1) and England (0-0). England wasted a couple of good chances in that final group game too. It sets up a second round match versus Germany, whom while they have only scored three goals themselves at Euro 2016, I can’t help but think the World Champions have an easy route into the quarter-finals. Wouldn’t even be surprised if Joachim Löw rests a few players in this game.