The second international tournament out of 3 this summer will begin in France, which is EURO 2016. This tournament generally is considered one of the best tournaments around the world, on par with the World Cup in the eyes of many, as it has most of the top teams in the world.
Wales under the influence of Gareth Bale were able to top a tough group including England, Russia and Slovakia. He turned out to be the deciding factor, scoring in all 3 of their games. His biggest opportunity has come through free-kicks and also through his speed on the counter attack. He also helps set up his team mates like he has in the last game against Russia when they ran out 3-0 winners. The 5-man Welsh defence, proved extremely difficult to break down; and as such were able to keep things tight against Russia to give them confidence coming into this game.
Northern Ireland hav focussed a lot on their defence efforts, that saw them lose by only 1 goal to group leaders Germany and 2nd placed Poland; but were able to thrash Ukraine by a score of 2-0 in order to reach this stage. The team have struggled to score against teams who also set up to defend a lot. Kyle Lafferty who was their top scorer in the Euro 2016 qualification, has gone AWOL in this tournament. They got 2 lucky goals this tournament, and because of their struggles offensively, I cannot see how they would be able to win this one,
Wales have been good this tournament, and might actually break into the top 8 in the European Cup and I expect the Welsh to play well and qualify to the next stage.
Poland have appeared in the knockout stages of the tournament for the first time of any tournament, and will be looking forward to qualifying towards the quarter finals. They have been undefeated in the tournament so far, beating Ukraine and Northern Ireland by a 1-0 scoreline, while drawing 0-0 with Germany. Their strong defence has kept them nicely in the tournament led by Gilik who has been outstanding. Milik continues his good form up front, getting chances and creating for his team mates to win the 2 games so far. Lewandowski has been a shadow of himself so far in this tournament, so it will need him to pick up performances and hope that will hope their wide players Kamil Grosicki and Jakub Blaszczykowski continue to deliver good service to him
Switzerland have struggled through this tournament, winning against Albania luckily, drawing with Romania and then drawing against France. They have looked absolutely hopeless in front of goal with Seferovic looking absolutely lost while Shaqiri has yet to stamp his authority on this tournament. Switzerland have lost to better teams like Belgium, Bosnia, Ireland and England on their way to this tournament, showcasing the struggles they have had. If Switzerland have to win, they have to over-rely on their defence to keep them in the game, and hope that the forwards come good; but its difficult to see them against this tough Polish defence.
I expect this game to be extremely tight and both teams looking to drag it on till late in the game for as long as possible, but I believe Poland have slightly better quality to steal this game within 90 minutes itself, so I am backing Poland on the Asian Handicap.
Portugal come into this game with 3 draws on their back and struggling to score goals that would have helped them already secure their spot in the next stage of the tournament. Portugal have had plenty of chances to score goals, Ronaldo and Nani getting on the scoresheet in the dramatic 3-3 draw against Hungary. Portugal have these good players in width along with their wide players Guerrero and Vieirinha, continue to create chances and bomb crosses for the forwards to try and go. They have earned 30 corners in the 3 games so far. This game will continue to be the same, with Portugal dominating the possession and continue to get a lot of corners in order to get a win. Portugal have smashed in corners for themselves which reads: 9, 10, 11, 9, 2, 5, 2, 19, 7.
Croatia have relied on Perisic to deliver the goods for the team so far this tournament from the wide left side, and he has delivered so far. He gave an assist and a goal in the last game against Spain to help them top the group. He also found the back of the net against Czech Republic in the game before that; so he is extremely important for them. Midfield maestro Luka Modric and forward Mario Manduzkic are likely to get back for this game. Both of them like to shoot from a distance, and you see quite a few corners coming out of it. Dario Srna, Strinic and Brozovic help them create some crossing opportunities against a Portuguese defence who like to clear the ball out of the box in any circumstances. They smash in a lot of corners reading as follows: 3, 11, 5, 12, 5, 2, 6, 5.
This game will see a lot of attacking play between both sides, and their defences will look to keep the ball out of the box under any circumstances, and I expect both teams to hit a lot of corners, and backing over 11.5 corners in this game.
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