Featured Friday: EURO 2016 Knockout Stages to Bring the Heat

After a slow start to the competition, things are starting to heat up at EURO 2016 and despite it being a fairly low-scoring competition, we have seen some hard-fought encounters leading up to the Quarter Final stage.Iceland vs England.jpg

As it stands, Portugal are the only team that’s booked their place in the last 4, with Cristiano Ronaldo and his men beating Poland on penalties, after drawing the match 1-1 after 120 minutes. At 18 years and 317 days old, Renato Sanches made history when he became the youngest player ever to score a goal in the knockout stages of the competition.

Strangely, Portugal have made it to the Semi Finals, without winning one game within the regulation 90 minutes of play – one has to wonder if they could keep this up all the way to the final?

Wales vs Belgium

This evening, we look forward to what promises to be an exciting affair between Wales and Belgium.

Gareth Bale and co have done well to come this far in the tournament but personally, I believe that Belgium will be too strong for them. Despite playing without three of their strongest defenders at EURO 2016, the Belgian attack has been on fire and when the likes of Eden Hazard and Kevin de Bruyne are in the mood for goals, Wales might find things very difficult.

Prediction: Wales 1-3 Belgium.

Germany vs Italy

On Saturday, we have the in-form Italy against the struggling Germans. As I said ahead of the tournament, the Germans definitely have the team on paper to go all the way, but Football is not played on paper. Most of the team has underperformed in France and one has to wonder whether or not they will come right against a strong Italian outfit.

Antonio Conte seems to be planning a wonderful exit from the Italian managerial position – his team played a tactical masterclass against Spain in the Round of 16 and if the Germans do not pull up their socks, they might be in a spot of bother here.

Prediction: Germany 1-2 Italy

France vs Iceland

What a story – Iceland are in their first ever major tournament and have beaten England to make it into the Quarter Finals where they face the hosts, France.

A country with only 330 000 citizens should probably never even consider winning this game but with the tournament they’ve had, who knows what could happen?

Iceland’s Leicester-esque rise have placed them in a fortunate position where they can play without fear and with the backing of every neutral fan in the world – something that can make any team very dangerous.

Having said that, France have been good and will have their home crowd behind their backs. I really hope that Iceland wins – who does not love a good underdog story? But, my head tells me that France will be too good for the tournament newcomers.

Predictions: France 2-0 Iceland

Whatever happens over the course of this weekend, we can look forward to three very exciting matches and a round of Semi Finals to follow.

Written by @thatWallace from www.thepundits.co.za

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