Goals galore, late dramas, extra time heartbreaks, and the KO of the heavyweights, the last 16 had everything we could wish for and more. With the Quarter finals now a few days away, we sit back and take a look at three things we learned from the last 16 of the Euros.
Our Predictions utterly failed!
We previewed every tie from the last 16 and also gave our predictions for each game. In our predictions, we conveniently wrote off Czech Republic, Spain, Switzerland, and Sweden. The first night of the last 16 saw us nearly eating our own words when Italy were given a run of their money by Austria; a tie we had called would be the easiest to navigate for the Azzurri. However, things would unravel the next day when the Czechs pulled a rabbit out their hat and knocked the Oranjes out with a commanding 2-0 win.
It all went downhill from there for our predictions as a dominant Spain beat Croatia 5-3 on extra time. The biggest shock would then come when the Swiss came back from two goals down to take France into extra time and then to tie breakers which they eventually won. Our bold prediction of England winning the game against Germany at least was correct but Ukraine’s 120th minute winner against Sweden meant we got only 50% of our predictions right.
We’ll be walking on a tight rope not to write teams off again when we/if we make any predictions for the Quarter final ties. Or should we stop calling games altogether after this disaster?
Spain Rediscover their Shooting boots
Spain’s start to the campaign was unconvincing and uninspiring. With two stalemates against Sweden and Poland and just one goal scored, the Spanish team were on the cusp of elimination from the group stages. However, this was not to suggest Spain were playing defensively or without any attacking impetus because the underlying stats suggested Spain were one of the most attacking teams in the Euros. A lot of this was down to the Spaniards hugely underperforming their xG (expected goals). In their first two games, they accumulated an xG of 5.83 but managed to score only 1.
Ever since, the Spaniards have more than turned it around and have scored 10 in the last two games; hugely outperforming their xG of 7.87. It’s fair to say now that La Rojas have found their shooting boots again at the stage of the tournament where it matters most and looked fired up going into the Quarter finals. Luis Enrique’s only concern now will be designating a new player for penalty duties with the Spaniards having missed two out of two spot kicks in the Euros so far.
Is it (Football) finally Going Home?
England have always either been extremely overrated or downright unlucky in International tournaments. Not since the country’s only World Cup triumph in 1966 have England come close to winning any major international tournaments. This year, however, the English came into the tournament with the media giving more attention to Southgate’s squad selection rather than their title credentials.
The Three Lions comfortably navigated though the group stages as group winners only to be tied with Germany in the last 16. For Southgate, the man who infamously missed the deciding spot-kick in Euro 96 against Germany that saw England crash out in the Semis, this was his chance at redemption. His defensive approach to the game against Germany raised eyebrows but England were much stronger on the night as they beat Germany 2-0 in front of the home crowd at Wembley.
The win has finally redeemed Southgate but more importantly, put England in pole position to go all the way. They are the only team remaining in the Euros that haven’t yet conceded a goal and also have comparatively navigable fixtures, at least on paper.
So, as the insufferable English fans make their appearances with their “It’s Coming Home, Football’s Coming Home.”chants, you really do wonder if the English could really go on and win the whole thing this summer.
Catch our Preview of the last 8 on the 2nd of July!