Exciting moments await for Europe’s final 16

Written by Ben Blaschke

Ivan Perišić’s late goal against Spain, which gave Croatia a dramatic 2-1 win after trailing 1-0 early, has become a key moment of Euro 2016. After smashing Turkey 3-0 in their previous outing, the confidence of the Spaniards was high and Alvaro Morata’s first half goal suggested they would continue their recent dominance of the football world.

But goals from Croatia’s Nikola Kalinić and Ivan Perišić – as well as Sergio Ramos’ controversial missed penalty – condemned Spain to their first defeat in the European Cup since 2004. It also sets up a replay of the 2012 final in the Round of 16 with the defending champions up against Group E winners Italy!

With Euro 2016 now taking shape, there are some intriguing games looming in the knockout stages with the bottom half of the final 16 arguably the most dangerous in competition history. There will almost certainly be a few surprises among the final eight!

The bottom half contains most of the big guns – Germany, England, Italy and Spain – while Gareth Bale’s Wales side has a great chance to advance further, while in the top half Gareth Bale’s Wales has a great chance to create history against lesser weights such as Switzerland, Poland and Croatia.

Because of the expansion of the European Cup this year from 16 to 24 teams, games in the group stage were not as glamorous as in previous years. At Euro 2012, 76 goals were scored in total at 2.45 goals per game while in this year’s tournament the 32 games played so far have seen 58 goals scored at just 1.81 goals per game.

However, what the group stages lacked the knockout stages promise to make-up for. Surprises await and now is the time for the world’s best to shine!