The group phase only ended on Wednesday, but it feels like ages since our last fix of Euro 2016 football. But the action in France returns on Saturday, and the tournament looks set to reach top gear. The knockout phase has arrived.
Saturday’s round of 16 action serves up three fascinating fixtures including a battle between two home nations rivals. After landing a little profit in the group phase, we’ll be hopping to step it up a notch in this round starting with these contests.
Bring it on!
Saturday’s Matches: Switzerland v Poland (2PM, BBC One); Wales v Northern Ireland (5PM, BBC One); Croatia v Portugal (8PM, ITV)
Knockout action at Euro 2016 gets underway at 2PM in Saint Etienne as Group A as the runners-up of groups A and C collide in what should be a fascinating showdown. The Swiss have a decent record of reaching at least this stage in competitions, but it’s the Poles that look more dangerous here, especially after picking up seven points in a group that contained Germany.
There’s quality amongst both squads, but the firepower of Robert Lewandowski and Arkaadiusz Milik could give Poland an advantage. At 5PM, it’s time for another Group C side to begin their knockout journey as Michael O’Neill’s Norn Iron take on Wales.
The spirited Northern Irish worked wonders to progress from an immensely tough group while Chris Coleman’s men will be ecstatic after pipping England to top spot. And with the top half o the draw looking considerably easier on paper, the winning could have a real chance to do something special. It should be a chaotic battle form start to finish.
A last minute goal for Iceland spared Portugal from facing England in the last 16, but Cristiano Ronaldo and co are still in for a tough night as they face a Croatian side that are fresh off the back of beating holders Spain. The contest in Lens has all the makings of a classic, we wouldn’t want to miss it for the world.
Toe Punter v The Bookies
Three games. Three selections. And hopefully three winners. That’s our plan for Saturday, starting with our selection in the afternoon clash involving Poland.
One of the big shocks in the group phase was a lack of goals for Lewandowski, but that could all change here. Switzerland aren’t the side they once were and Poland should have enough to clinch the victory.
We’re backing the main man to fire them on their way.
Bet: Poland to win & Lewandowski to score @ 5/1 (£10 stake)
All eyes will be on the Wales v Northern Ireland match as two overachieving nations do their best to clinch their respective places in the quarter-final. And both teams have every reason to fancy their chances.
However, it’s the Welsh that hold all the aces in this one, particularly if Aaron Ramsey and Gareth Bale get going. Back them to win with ease.
Bet: Wales -1 Asian handicap @ 11/5 with 888sport (£10 stake)
The evening game between Croatia and Portugal could be one of the best of the tournament, especially as Cristiano Ronaldo has finally found his feet. Having said that, barring a strange end against the Czechs, Croatia have been one of the teams of the tournament so far.
This one could definitely go either way, but we’d like to think there will be goals. We were tempted with over 2.5, but the chance of a refund has made us take the 2.0 goal line instead.
Bet: Over 2 goal line @ 21/20 (£10 stake)