The knockout stages of Euro 2016 begin tomorrow and after some tactical and tense group matches, the free flowing attacking football many fans expected should start as games become a straight shootout for progression to the tournament’s next stage.
We began to see sides opening up in the final games of each group, throwing up crackers like Croatia vs Spain and Portugal vs Hungary.
But now with each game set to be decided in one off games, this should become the norm with teams looking to get their business sorted as quickly as possible to allow as much time for recuperation.
The knockout stages should see some exciting clashes with Spain facing Italy, Portugal taking on Croatia and an all British clash between Wales and Northern Ireland.
We spoke to Jason Cundy about his thoughts on the group stages and what to expect from the knockout stage:
The tournament’s structure contributed to the group game’s outcomes and have thrown up both positives and negatives as it saw teams going into their final group games without a win knowing that they could still qualify.
Usually teams look to win their opening game to put the pressure on those around them instead, teams that knew they could qualify in third place were defensive and kept things tight resulting in few open games and very little free flowing games as teams knew that they didn’t have to win (literally as Portugal went through with 3 draws!)
You only have to look at Ireland, who went into their last game against Italy on a single point and went through after picking up a win.
I can understand why the average fan has found it ‘boring’ but I have enjoyed it, finding the tactical battles intriguing. It hasn’t been a classic so far but has had its entertaining moments.
But the tournament starts now as most teams will change approach (teams like Iceland won’t who have enjoyed success with their defensive style) and should see them pushing for the win rather than being reserved.