Big guns huddled together in last 16 draw

The result of five hours of brain wracking permutations on the last day saw some interesting matchups in the first stage of the knockouts the four third-placed teams completing the draw for the round of 16.

Spain is seeking a hat-trick of European titles.   -  REUTERS

After two weeks of intense football, Euro 2016 has reached its first stage of climax, the Round of 16. All the European powerhouses that were expected to go through have lived up to the expectations of their fans.

The result of five hours of brain wracking permutations on the last day saw some interesting matchups in the first stage of the knockouts the four third-placed teams completing the draw for the round of 16. The highlight of the last 16 schedule will be the clash between Italy and two-time defending champion Spain. Unexpectedly, both teams lost once in their groups, but now its do or die, so no loose game would be appreciated.

France, which will play against the Republic of Ireland is expected to go through the quarters having performed impressively through the likes of Dimitri Payet and Antoine Griezmann. Iceland, a surprising element in the last 16 is scheduled to face England. The English have to come back stronger with more aggressiveness and capitalise on their chances.

Group C leader Germany in its sublime form is again expected to have its path for the quarter-finals clear with a relatively easy tie against Slovakia. Another mercurial encounter for the fans will feature Hungary taking on mighty Belgium. Surprisingly leading its group, Hungary will be high on confidence to take a spot in the quarter-finals whereas Belgium is struggling a bit with its midfield combinations.

The other round of 16 matches will feature Switzerland and Poland, Wales and Northern Ireland and a cracker between Portugal and Croatia. Poland is yet to concede a goal in the tournament and will look forward to continue this streak.

The clash between Wales and Northern Ireland looks to be one-sided as in-form Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey seem to be unstoppable and to contain their attack for 90 minutes would require a huge performance from the Northern Ireland defence.

The second most awaited encounter after Spain-Italy, has to be Portugal taking on Croatia. After defeating Spain, the Croatian midfield unit looks fearless. Luka Modric, Ivan Perisic and Ivan Rakitic gives more strength to its attack and with three consecutives draws for Portugal, it will be a mammoth task to stop it from entering the quarters. For Portugal, chances needs to be converted into goals and things depend very much on its messiah, Cristiano Ronaldo.