Euro 2016: The best and worst of the Round of 16


Wayne Rooney. (Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP)

With the quarterfinals of Euro 2016 scheduled to kick off on Thursday, what better time to recap the best (and worst) of the Round of 16?

June 25: Switzerland 1, Poland 1 (5-4 shootout win) in Saint-Etienne
In the 82nd minute, a Polish clearance looped high in the penalty area and came down on the edge of the box where Switzerland’s Xherdan Shaqiri hit a spectacular volley on an overhead kick that nestled in the upper corner. A goal of the tournament candidate.

June 27: Italy 2, Spain 0 in Saint-Denis
In the eighth minute, Italy’s Alessandro Florenzi played a dangerous ball into the box where Graziano Pelle connected on a header that seemed destined for the lower corner. Spain’s David de Gea did incredibly well to get down quickly and push it wide of the post.

June 26: Hungary 0, Belgium 4 in Toulouse
Don’t be fooled by Belgium’s four-goal win—this game was closer than the final score suggested. This was an evenly contested match, played out between two attacking sides that went for it. Hungary pushed Belgium, even in the final minutes when the result was beyond doubt.

Eden Hazard. The Belgian was at his very best in the Red Devils’ 4-0 win over Hungary. This was the Hazard of two seasons ago when he was voted the Premier League’s best player—not the Hazard of this past season in which he sleepwalked through a dreadful campaign. Scored one goal and assisted on another to help his country move on to the quarterfinals.

Germany. Die Mannschaft were positively dominant in dispatching Slovakia 3-0—the trio of Toni Kroos, Julian Draxler and Mesut Ozil terrorizing the Slovakians and bullying them into submission. With the exception of Spain’s 3-0 win over Turkey in the group stage, this was as a professional and clinical display as any team has produced in France. Germany bossed the game from beginning to end, out-passing Slovakia by a wide margin and running them into the ground. Honourable mention to Belgium and Italy.

Iceland. On paper, this was a mis-match, with England’s gang of high-paid Premier League stars having the advantage over Iceland, who Cristiano Ronaldo previously said had a “small mentality,” and predicted “are not going to do anything in the competition.” Here’s the thing, though: while England have the better individual players, Iceland has the better team, their collection of grafters and workers playing as a unit, and far more than the collective sum of their parts.

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June 27: England 1, Iceland 2 in Nice
This Icelandic commentator loses it after the final whistle:

June 27: England 1, Iceland 2 in Nice
Epic fail by former England manager Steve McClaren. EPIC FAIL!

June 26: France 2, Ireland 1 in Lyon
Antoine Griezmann’s pair of second half goals propelled France past Ireland, prompting this:

Italian manager Antonio Conte celebrating the Azzurri’s win over Spain:

“I’m not the saviour. The saviour is the team.” – France’s Antoine Griezmann


June 27: England 1, Iceland 2 in Nice
Joe Hart’s howler. How did he let that one get by him?

England. What a dreadful performance by the Three Lions. This was a winnable game against Iceland, but Roy Hodgson’s men look uninspired and pedestrian as they tried in vain to break down their opponents. England was out-played, out-worked, out-thought and out-coached.

Luka Modric. After sitting out Croatia’s third group stage match because of injury, much was expected of the Real Madrid star in his country’s Round of 16 match vs. Portugal. Maybe he wasn’t full fit, but whatever the reason, he looked like a spectator out there, barely exerting any kind of influence in what turned out to be a tame and boring match.

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