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The Euro 2024 Round of 16 is Set

By Alex Al-Kazzaz

The Euro 2024 Group Stage is complete. With the knockout stage fully set, the tournament is now in full effect. It's do-or-die for each competitor now. There have been some shocks and surprises in the group stage, with Austria topping their group over France and the Netherlands, Croatia going home early, and Slovenia and Slovakia earning a spot in the Round of 16.

Several favorites to win the Euro didn't perform effectively in the group stage. England failed to win against Denmark and Slovenia but still managed to top their group. France's inability to cash in on numerous scoring chances forced them to settle for a draw against the Netherlands and Poland, which resulted in them not winning their group. Italy was ten seconds away from losing to Croatia, which would've sent the defending European champs home early, only to salvage a draw and send the Croats home. Spain won all three games and has solidified itself as a true dark horse, along with Denmark and Switzerland. Germany didn't face a challenge until they finished their group against the Swiss, which ended in a 1-1 draw, with the Germans prevailing.

Romania managed to top their group, and Turkey secured a spot in the knockouts with a win over the Czech Republic. In addition, Euro debutants Georgia secured a spot with a remarkable 2-0 win over Portugal.

Switzerland vs Italy

Italy didn't look good at all in the group stage. The defending champions conceded within a minute in their opening match against Albania but managed to win 2-1. They lost their second game to Spain courtesy of an own goal, and just barely avoided elimination in their final group match against Croatia. The Azzurri do not look well at all, but they're known for looking bad in the group stage and strong in the knockouts.

Switzerland has a history of being overlooked and underestimated. A few years ago, they overcame a 3-1 deficit and eliminated France at Euro 2020. The Swiss almost picked the win over Germany, which would have allowed them to win the group. Switzerland also drew against Scotland. The Swiss team looks pretty good, as they have a balanced team.

Prediction: Italy wins via a penalty shoot-out following a 1-1 draw after 120 minutes.

Germany vs Denmark

Germany is the tournament host. Die Mannschaft was able to beat Scotland and Hungary. Against the Swiss, they were challenged, and they almost lost. However, Hungary did give somewhat of a challenge; it was their inability to score that prevented Germany from being threatened. Germany has not won the European title since 1996. They're determined to win it on home soil. They've got a formidable and talented squad. After salvaging a draw against Switzerland, the Germans know that they now need to be serious.

Denmark drew in all three group matches. Holding England to a 1-1 draw is a win for them, but a 1-1 draw against Slovenia and a scoreless draw against Serbia doesn't give them much confidence, if any. At Euro 2020, Denmark was the dark horse as they reached the final four. They're determined to make another deep run in the knockouts, and while they have the talent to do it, the question is whether or not they can create chances and capitalize. While a win over Germany is not easy, it's possible.

Prediction: Germany wins 2-0.

England vs Slovakia

England topped their group despite an unconvincing run. Their only win was against Serbia, which saw England lucky enough to win because Serbia failed to take advantage of scoring chances. England couldn't finish against Demark and couldn't get anything going in their 0-0 draw against Slovenia. The team's got amazing talent, but their inability to make an impact leaves a bad mark on the team. Unfortunately, that's been the case for many decades.

Slovakia started with a big win over Belgium. After failing to get the win against Ukraine, Slovakia settled for a 1-1 draw against Romania. While England didn't look dangerous in the group stage, they know that they can't be sloppy anymore. Slovakia's chances against England are minimal at best.

Prediction: England wins 3-0.

Spain vs Georgia

Spain is the favorite as the Spaniards topped their group, and they look formidable. Georgia entered the tournament with no chance of making it out of the group stage. Their big win over Portugal granted them a spot in the knockouts, and Georgia proved its capability to take on big challenges. If Georgia can upset Portugal, they have a shot of upsetting Spain. The team has respectable talent.

The Spaniards know they are in for a long day against Georgia. Georgia was fortunate that Portugal couldn't capitalize on scoring opportunities. Spain can't make the same mistakes Portugal did; underestimate their opponent and not take advantage of scoring chances. Spain will likely pace themselves around the pitch and outsmart the opposition. Georgia is capable of playing strong.

Prediction: Spain wins 2-1.

France vs Belgium

Two major disappointments in the group stage. France couldn't even top a group that was easily theirs. Les Bleus have a habit of messing around in the group stage only to pick it up in the knockouts. Will it happen this time? They'd better because, considering the endless riches of talent on that team, poor results are unacceptable. France's biggest problem so far has been their inability to score.

Belgium just isn't the same team they were years ago. Eden Hazard isn't there. Thibault Courtois didn't make the squad. Romelu Lukaku's woes continue. A 1-0 loss to Slovakia hurt them, especially because two goals were nullified. They did beat Romania 2-0, but being held to a scoreless draw against Ukraine is frustrating. There's some talent on this Belgian team, but leadership and management are a problem. A lack of concentration and will to play is affecting them, as well.

Prediction: France wins 2-0.

Portugal vs Slovenia

Amazingly, Cristiano Ronaldo is still in top form and playing at a high level. However, he's yet to score in this tournament. Fortunately, Portugal like France and England, have a plethora of talent. Portugal's win over the Czech Republic in their opening match showed great resilience. Their 3-0 win over Turkey was a confidence boost, but the loss to Georgia can be a momentum and/or a confidence killer. Portugal won't let it affect them.

Slovenia managing to avoid defeat in all three group games is a great accomplishment. They were very close to getting the win over Serbia. But holding England to a scoreless draw is a big win for Slovenia. On paper, they have no chance of beating Portugal, but wasn't that the case for Georgia in their game against Portugal? Slovenia's best bet to stay alive in the game may be to rely on heavy defending, but they'll need to attack too.

Prediction: Portugal wins 3-0.

Romania vs Netherlands

Romania's win in the group is a great achievement. The team has not been to a World Cup since 1998. Its best Euro finish was in 2000, when it made it to the quarterfinals. Right now, the team seems fairly balanced, with a respectable attack and defense. Romania is determined to build on its success so far in this tournament.

The Netherlands, like France, are embarrassed that they failed to win the group. But what's even more embarrassing for the Dutch was their loss to Austria. What's more unfortunate is that a potential win against France was nullified as they had a goal canceled under controversial circumstances. After they started off winning a 2-1 over Poland, they had a good chance of beating France and even finishing perfectly to top the group, but that didn't happen. So they're determined to make a deep run regardless, and it's not impossible.

Prediction: The Netherlands wins 3-2.

Austria vs Turkey

Austria was expected to finish bottom of their group. Instead, they won it. For the record, France did NOT beat Austria. Austria beat themselves in their game against France. They bounced back with a big win over Poland and an even bigger win against the Netherlands. The team's talent and playing ability is unique. They didn't win the group by luck but rather by skill.

Turkey, like Austria, are simply better than they look. This team can play well, and the talent is incredible. Turkey's playing mentality helps them. Austria's team chemistry ought to convince Turkey to utilize theirs. Turkey and Austria seem evenly matched.

Prediction: Turkey wins via penalty shoot-out after regulation, and extra time finishes with a 2-2 draw.

(Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)

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