Poland Vs. Portugal
With Portugal being the favorite, these two teams respective paths to the quarter finals have been much different.
Portugal has been led by Real Madrid talisman Cristiano Ronaldo, but you already knew that. Portugal did not win a game in their group stage, but beat Croatia on a dramatic 117th minute Ricardo Quaresma strike.
On the other side, Poland has looked formidable even without a tally from the always dangerous Robert Lewandowski, as Bayern Munich’s number 9 has been non-existent in the tournament thus far. But Jacub Blaszczykowski and Arkadiusz Milik have done more than enough to shoulder the load, and Poland have been just fine.
Not only have they been scoring goals, but their midfield and defense have controlled games. They were able to hold the world champions to an evenly matched to a 0-0 draw.
I see this strong form from Poland continuing and if Lewandowski starts to show up, the Polish can put together a deep run.
Portugal Key Player: Cristiano Ronaldo
Poland Key Player: Robert Lewandowski
Prediction: 2-1 Poland
Wales Vs. Belgium
Wales have been the surprise package of the tournament, in large part because of the heroic efforts of one Gareth Bale. The Real Madrid winger has scored 3 goals and been a key figure in each match.
With the help of creative midfielders Aaron Ramsey and Joe Allen, Bale has been able to lead Wales to the knockout stages in their first ever European Championship.
With Belgium, they got out of the gates to a shaky and to a point concerning start, but have rebounded well, winning three games in a row fairly convincing.
It’s been all about the star power for the Belgians, with Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard having tournaments to remember.
Hazard’s performance for the ages on Sunday has reinvigorated the supporters with the belief that they’re an international powerhouse, and Eden looks poised to do so.
But their attack is too inconsistent at this point, and they don’t look as though they have the cutting edge to get it done.
Wales Key Player: Gareth Bale
Belgium Key Player: Eden Hazard
Prediction 1-0 Wales
Germany Vs. Italy
Two of the world’s most exciting and decorated sides will go at on Saturday, and if it lives up to the extraordinary hype it’s getting, we’re in for a classic.
This German team has been a little disappointing so far, as they haven’t shown their ability to rip a team apart as they did to Brazil in 2014.
Ruthlessness and that technical ability have made Germany so successful recently, and they’ve lacked some of that we’re used to seeing.
Italy is coming off their biggest win since the 2006 World Cup Final and are riding the momentum that comes with such an achievement.
The Italians were able to knock off tournament favorite Spain on Monday and continue their dominant run.
Before the tournament, manager Antonio Conte was given a lot of criticism for the team he picked. But he’s pulled all the right strings so far, but the Germans may be too much.
Germany Key Player: Mesut Özil
Italy Key Player: Gianluigi Buffon
Prediction 1-1, Germany on penalties
The unrealistic expectations from the optimistic Icelandic supporters aren’t looking so unrealistic after all. And after shocking England in an upset for the ages, they now face another European giant in France.
Iceland’s defense went relatively untested in the England game, and the deep but potent French attack will prove to be too much to handle for the underdogs. But with the support of 300,000 Norsemen and most of the world sitting at home.
The French have lived up to expectations and have played fantastic football. Antonie Griezmann and Dimitri Payet have been the two main men, and have provided a last-minute spark when necessary.
But they’ve played somewhat entitled in some parts of the tournament, and Iceland will be hoping they enter the match with that same mentality.
France Key Player: Dimitri Payet
Iceland Key Player: Gylfi Sigurdsson
Prediction 3-2 France