Switzerland v Poland
Saturday 25 June, 14:00 BST, Saint-Etienne. BBC1
The Round of 16 will get underway with two as-of-yet unbeaten teams at the Stade Geoffrey Guichard, with Group A runners-up Switzerland meeting their Group C counterparts, Poland. Switzerland have made it to this stage having taken three points against Albania and recording a draw against Romania and France. Their success to this point has been based off of a solid defensive line, as well as a possession-based approach in their matches. Poland have seen greater success, and come into this stage off the back of a win against Ukraine, with their earlier results being a victory over the Northern Irish and a scoreless draw against World Champions Germany. Like their opponents, Poland can boast a stellar defence, having not conceded a single goal since arriving in France. It wouldn’t be a surprise if this is a low scoring game, but tournaments often don’t go according to the script.
Owain’s Prediction: Switzerland 1-0 Poland (AET)
Wales v Northern Ireland
Saturday 25 June, 17:00 BST, Paris. BBC1 and S4C
A dominant 3-0 victory saw Wales take top spot in Group B, and they’ll hope to show themselves in the same good light as they take on Northern Ireland. The Northern Irish, however, will come into the game with a reasonable amount of confidence, after holding Germany to only one goal thanks to an inspired performance from their goalkeeper, Michael McGovern. Wales will look to Aaron Ramsey and Joe Allen to keep up their dominance of the midfield from their last match. Northern Ireland are certainly the underdogs for this match, but it’s a label that has served both of these teams reasonably well to date.
Owain’s Prediction: Wales 2-1 Northern Ireland
Croatia v Portugal
Saturday 25 June, 20:00 BST, Lens. ITV
Croatia have been a very impressive side throughout this tournament, and will be riding high on confidence after inflicting a surprising 2-1 defeat upon Spain in their final group match. Portugal, meanwhile, have failed to win a single match since arriving in France, as they suffer setback after setback – be it an Icelandic equaliser, Cristiano Ronaldo hitting the post with a penalty or conceding three goals to Hungary. However, they may also feel confident, having fought back from a trailing position three times in their most recent match to gain a point. One of the many mouthwatering ties that this tournament has spat out, this could easily go either way.
Owain’s Prediction: Croatia 3-2 Portugal (AET)
France v Republic of Ireland
Sunday 26 June, 14:00 BST, Lyon. ITV
Ireland snuck into the Round of 16 with a late winner against a weakened Italian side, and it sets up a rematch of the controversial 2010 World Cup Playoff that ended with a dubious goal for France that ought to have been ruled out for a handball by Thierry Henry. The host side haven’t been too convincing through this tournament – it took them until the end of the game to even find the net against lowly Albania. Still, it’s undeniable that France have the better players, even if they’ve failed to fully win us over. It’ll be a passionate encounter, mostly thanks to the ramification of that Henry handball, but it’d be very surprising if the hosts bow out this early.
Owain’s Prediction: France 2-0 Republic of Ireland
Germany v Slovakia
Sunday 26 June, 17:00 BST, Lille. ITV
A rematch of a pre-tournament friendly, Germany will be hoping to do much better than the two-goal defeat they suffered at the hands of the Slovaks. Germany topped their group with ease, beating Ukraine and Northern Ireland and claiming a point off of a match against Poland, but the World Champions haven’t completely blown away any team in a way that many might have expected. Slovakia, despite suffering an early setback against Wales, recovered to easily defeat a weak Russian side before battling out a 0-0 draw with England. This is a match between the best of the 3rd place sides and arguably one of the best of the group winners (even if they haven’t shown it yet in this tournament), and should provide a good match.
Owain’s Prediction: Germany 3-1 Slovakia
Hungary v Belgium
Sunday 26 June, 20:00 BST, Toulouse. BBC1
Hungary come into their Round of 16 match as group winners, and straight off the back of a thrilling 3-3 draw against Portugal. The Hungarians are undefeated so far, yet it took a late Icelandic own-goal to save their blushes in their second match. Belgium are not undefeated, although their loss did come at the hands of an Italian side that simply looked superb. Belgium moved past that, demolishing Ireland in Bordeaux before edging out a victory against Sweden. Whilst Belgium are, on paper, the better side, don’t expect the Hungarians to go down without a fight.
Owain’s Prediction: Hungary 1-2 Belgium
Italy v Spain
Monday 27 June, 17:00 BST, Saint-Denis. BBC1
One of the tastier games of this round sees a rematch of the final from four years ago. Italy cruised to top spot in Group E after just the first two games, with an impressive performance against Belgium topping off their tournament to date. Meanwhile, Spain followed up a dominant start to their campaign with a shock 2-1 defeat against Croatia, their first loss at a European Championship since 2004. Both sides have managed to prove some of their critics wrong; Italy, who have been accused of having their weakest team for years, have come to France and shown that they can beat some of Europe’s best – while Spain, accused of lacking any strike force, found the net three times in a superb victory over Turkey. Expect this one to be a lot closer than their meeting in Kiev.
Owain’s Prediction: Italy 2-1 Spain
England v Iceland
Monday 27 June, 20:00 BST, Nice. ITV
England’s failure to beat Slovakia saw them slip to second place in Group B, whilst a late winner for Iceland against Austria capped off an impressive – and undefeated – group stage performance in their maiden tournament. England have been frustrated over and over in their group matches, controlling the ball in the attacking end yet receiving little reward as they find goals hard to come by. Meanwhile, Iceland come into their first knockout match on a high having secured a last minute winner against Austria and two draws against Hungary and Portugal respectively. It’s fairly obvious who the favourite is in this game, yet England’s struggles in finding the net may give this Icelandic side hope. Don’t count the minnows out yet.
Owain’s Prediction: England 1-1 Iceland (Iceland win on penalties)