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Euro 2016 - The Knockout Stages, Day One: Defence, Dallas, and Ronaldo's abs

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England, Northern Ireland, and Wales: all still alive in the knockout round. What should we watch for on day one?

A dream run continues for Stuart and NIR.
A dream run continues for Stuart and NIR.
Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

The group stage of Euro 2016 had it all: Ireland topping Italy, a beautiful England and Wales match, Stuart Dallas and Northern Ireland advancing, Croatia topping Spain at the death, Ronaldo being Ronaldo, Ibrahimovic retiring and being knocked out, Hungary and Iceland advancing, amazing fans being amazing fans, "Will Grigg's On Fire" adapted to every nation.... You really couldn't ask for anything more (unless you're an England fan, then you're always left wanting).

And the next few rounds promise more of the same. We kick off the knockout phase at Through It All Together by giving you a quick rundown of Saturday's fixtures, pointing out what to watch for, making a quick prediction, and wishing all of you readers luck. God knows after the tumultuous last few days in the UK, we could all use a good distraction.

We'll continue on Sunday with Day Two predictions and previews, and then finish off on Monday with Day Three.

Enjoy watching Stuart Dallas today, let's all hope he can score a goal for Leeds United in Paris.

The Knockout Phase

Day One: Saturday, 25 June

Switzerland vs. Poland: 14:00 BT, Saint-Etienne

The Swiss have only beaten Poland once in international competition way back in 1976, with Poland winning four times and the team drawing five. That won't matter too much to either of these sides, as both are excited to be playing in the first Euro knockout phase matches in their nation's history. Switzerland scored twice in the group phase, both from set pieces, making them the only team left without a goal from open play. Meanwhile, Poland's stingy defence allowed a whopping zero goals in the group phase. They'll need Robert Lewandowski and company to step up their attack, but Poland should win this match.

TIAT Prediction: Poland 2 - Switzerland 0.

Wales vs. Northern Ireland: 17:00 BT, Paris

What a tournament for both of these sides. Wales won Group B thanks to a dominating performance over Russia, and Gareth Bale is peak Gareth Bale, scoring in all three matches. They've emerged from the group phase as potential finalists (what??) after landing on an "easier" side of the bracket, and having trailed for only 2 minutes and 31 seconds so far in this tournament, they should feel secure in this matchup.

Northern Ireland on the other hand have the lowest possession percentage in the entire tournament (28.5%) and the fewest shots (17). They lost twice, but advanced off a 2-0 win over a winless Ukraine side. While they're the heavy underdogs, their fans have been incredible, and they'll hope their Leeds United's Stuart Dallas and company can hold Wales to few goals, get lucky on the counter, and hold on for a big upset. (Most likely, farewell to the lone Leeds representative at Euro 2016. It's been fun.)

TIAT Prediction: Wales 3 - Northern Ireland 0. Ouch.

Croatia vs. Portugal: 20:00 BT, Lens

This game is interesting. Croatia, whose fans want to get them kicked out of the tournament, won a group that included Spain, Turkey, and Czech Republic by scoring five goals and earning seven of nine points. They have only lost one of their last 10 Euro matches, and led by Barcelona's Ivan Rakitic, hope to continue that streak against Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal.

The Ronaldos, after earning a point in a thrilling 3-3 draw against Hungary, barely snuck into the knockout phase, on the strength of Ronaldo's third game performance (and his photogenic abs, probably). They drew Iceland, drew Portugal, and drew Hungary, but they'll need more Ronaldo magic to advance. He's also one goal short of Michel Platini's record of nine goals in the competition. Did we mention Ronaldo plays in this one? Portugal have not impressed, and they'll need to step up against a red-hot Croatia. Should be interesting to see if Ronaldo, I mean Portugal, can get it done.

TIAT Prediction: Croatia 2 - Portugal 1.

That's it for our day one preview. Which game are you most looking forward to? I know for most it's that second one, but Croatia-Portugal looks fun too. Think I was way off on my predictions? Let me hear it on Twitter, Facebook, and in the comments below.

Can't wait for August, but this'll do for now. #MOT