After 24 teams divided into six groups fought tooth and nail over a span of 13 days, we are headed into the round of 16 in the ongoing European Championship. Defending champions Portugal made it to the last 16 riding on a Cristiano Ronaldo onslaught. The Portugal captain is now equal with Iran’s Ali Daei on 109 international goals in men’s football, and crossed Michel Platini's Euro goals tally in their opening game versus Hungary. Among the other heavyweights, 2018 World Cup winners France moved into the knockout stages with one win over Germany and drawn games against Hungary and Portugal.
Italy, who failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, have bounced back, winning all their games, and maintaining a 30-game unbeaten streak. English bookmakers also consider the Azzurri top favourites for the title. World no. 1 side Belgium have also shown their class with three wins on the trot, and are now empowered with the return of Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard and Axel Witsel.
Denmark, who had a terrible opening game versus Finland, majorly for the on-field collapse of Inter Milan midfielder Christian Eriksen, romped into the last 16 beating Russia 4-1 in their last group stage match.
The Netherlands returned to international football after seven long years, and have managed to win all their group games and face Czech Republic on June 27. England have managed only two goals throughout the group stage, both strikes coming from Manchester city man Raheem Sterling. And while Croatia had to deal with some initial hiccups, their captain Luka Modric fired them into the next stage with a stellar performance against Scotland.
From Group E, it was all about Sweden and Spain. Janne Anderrson's men didn't lose a single game, while Spain made it to the second slot of the standings after 5-0 rout of Slovakia.
Countries who scraped through as best four third-placed teams are Switzerland, Ukraine, Czech Republic and Portugal.
The quarterfinals will begin from July 2. Watch out for this space for more updates.
July 2, Friday
Game 1: Winner 6 vs Winner 5 (9:30 pm IST, St Petersburg)
July 3, Saturday
Game 2: Winner 4 vs Winner 2 (12:30 am IST, Munich)
Game 3: Winner 3 vs Winner 1 (9:30 pm, Baku)
July 4, Sunday
Game 4: Winner 8 vs Winner 7 (12:30 am IST, Rome)
July 7, Wednesday
Game 1: Winner QF2 vs Winner QF1 (12:30 am IST, London)
July 8, Thursday
Game 2: Winner QF4 vs Winner QF3 (12:30 am IST, London)
The final will be held on July 12 at the iconic Wembley Stadium.
Graphics: Tiyasa Das