Jun. 24, 2016
Door wide open for underdogs at Euro 2016
Euro 2016 has finally reached the business end of the competition with the best 16 battling it out. After 2 weeks of closely fought encounters and brilliant goals we have certainly experienced some pleasant surprises with some obvious dark horses looking very threatening so far. The likes of Switzerland, Wales, Poland, Belgium, Croatia and Hungary have impressed and sprung a few surprises in their respective groups. Wales, Croatia and Hungary were shock toppers of their groups finishing ahead of England, Spain and Portugal to ensure an easier route to the finals. This had made the draw for the next rounds top heavy with all the favorites and historically good sides on one side and the dark horses on another. That means that Switzerland, Poland, Portugal, Croatia, Wales, Northern Ireland, Belgium, Hungary all have an equal shot to make the finals. That means that one of Germany, France, Spain, Italy, England can qualify.
The best teams have certainly not played the best football even though they have dominated possession have not been clinical enough in front of goal. The underdogs have been more incisive and have taken their chances so far and form is more important than reputation so Croatia are currently the best team based of that.
Wales have shown a tremendous team spirit so far and with their star players Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey leading the charge they look like a team with a great spirit and togetherness and have shown brilliant team work. They have been solid in defense and attacked well on the counter. Bale already has 3 goals and Ramsey with 2 assists and a goal they are showing up their British counterparts. With a relatively easy path with only Belgium and Croatia in their way they have a good chance.
Croatia have hit top form right from the get-go and begun to play some outstanding football that has even shown up Spain. Their midfield maestros have been phenomenal with Modric and Rakitic combining brilliantly to outlcass Spain. Perisic has also hit top-form and they look dangerous going deeper into the tournament. They were real dark horses going in and have justified that tag.
Poland have been solid in defense as they shut Germany out but not clinical enough in attack as they could not take their chances. Switzerland have been solid and with Xhaka performing phenomenally their underdogs tag might see them go a long way.
Belgium are not really underdogs since they are the second best ranked team in the world but no one expected them to win the tournament. With a favorable draw they have an excellent shot of making the final. Euro 2016 has so far belonged to the underdogs defending well and countering with precision and in some cases dominating the midfield. In other cases the smaller teams have defended with their lives and nicked a goal to win.
Whatever happens the Round of 16 promises to be thrilling and exciting for fans all over the globe and continue the trend of close matches with the underdogs performing and having a chance to win the trophy. My prediction of Belgium may finally come to fruition and even if it does not there is a massive chance that we have a new winner this year in France.