With the group stages of Euro 2016 complete, England have now discovered who their opponents will be in the next round. With just a few minutes to go in the final games in Group F, it looked like England would be taking on Portugal, however a last minute goal for Iceland in their game against Austria ensured that it will be they who play Roy Hodgson’s team in the last 16.
The draw poses some problems for Hodgson, as Iceland have already shown that they are a team to be reckoned with. Not content with qualifying for the tournament at the expense of the Netherlands, they’ve also draw with Portugal and beaten Austria in the group stages. What’s more, they will be expected to defend in numbers, making it tough for England to get through to goal. With the lack of cutting edge shown by England so far, this could be a big challenge for Hodgson to figure out.
Iceland finished second in their group after scoring a late goal against Austria, while their position was also made possible thanks to Portugal failing to beat Hungary. Icelandic players and fans will be rather happy that they managed to finish higher than Portugal, after Cristiano Ronaldo criticised their “small mentality” earlier in the tournament. Portugal still qualified though as one of the best third placed teams, however now face a really tricky tie against Croatia, who topped their group, which also contained Spain.
Wales and Northern Ireland are also both in the last 16, and they’ll face off against each other on Saturday. Wales will be big favourites to win, and should they get through to the quarter-finals they’ll face one of Belgium or Hungary. While Belgium will be favourites for this clash, Hungary have surprised many with their play, and deservedly topped the group featuring both Iceland and Portugal.
The Republic of Ireland are also through to the last 16, thanks to their win over Italy last night in Lille. They have a particularly tough draw though, as they’ll be taking on hosts France in Lyon. The winner of that match will then go on to face either England or Iceland in the quarter-finals. Ireland will feel that they have a chance though, and confidence will be high after their victory over Italy.
In the other games, Germany will take on Slovakia in Lille, while Switzerland and Poland will play each other in Saint-Étienne. The biggest match of the round though sees current champions Spain facing Italy, with the winner possibly having to face Germany in the next round.