So yesterday's matches were... played. They weren't nearly as exciting as we expected, and the match we thought would be a defensive slugfest was probably the most exciting of the three. Switzerland lost to Poland in penalty kicks after a glorious goal from Shaqiri sent it to extra time. Wales squeaked out a 1-0 win over Northern Ireland on a sad own goal after NIR played their defensive game so well. And Portugal vs. Croatia was absolute garbage until Quaresma scored in the 117th minute to give the Ronaldos a surprising 1-0 win at the death, a win they probably didn't deserve on the day, but a win that counts nonetheless.
That goal from Shaqiri though was probably the best goal of the entire tournament. Watch it please.
Goodness. Not enough for the Swiss though. Too bad.
Portugal plays Poland on Thursday, and Wales plays the winner of today's third match, Belgium or Hungary. We were 2-1 on our predictions yesterday, not expecting Croatia to lay a beautiful red and white checkered egg; let's see how we do today. Again, we'll give you a quick rundown of today's fixtures, point out what to watch for, make a quick prediction, and wish all of you readers luck if you have a team playing today (Ireland, maybe?). Should be better games than yesterday at least.
We'll continue tomorrow with Day Three previews and predictions. Rest up, tomorrow's matches are stellar too.
The Knockout Phase
Day Two: Sunday, 26 June
France vs. Ireland: 14:00 BT, Lyon
This is the Thierry Henry handball revenge match, right? Right.
Ireland pulled off a miracle against Italy last Wednesday to advance to the knockout phase, but they were defeated by France's "Hand of Frog" miracle in 2009 keeping Ireland out of the World Cup, and that will be first on the minds of all their supporters today. It's Ireland's first Euro knockout appearance in their history, and it came after two goals in the toughest group of the six. They were demolished by Belgium, drew with eliminated Sweden, and pulled off a miracle against Italy. They'll need to be better to beat France, though the momentum from their 1-0 win might carry them through.
The hosts came into the tournament as favorites. Powered by Pogba, Giroud, Payet, Griezmann, Lloris, and a million other big names, France won a relatively easy group with four goals and seven of nine points. Ireland (and their passion, heart, and luck) will be a stiff challenge for the pressure-laden side, but they should win this one comfortably and look to face England or Iceland in the Quarterfinals. Sorry, Sean.
TIAT Prediction: France 2 - Ireland 1.
Germany vs. Slovakia: 17:00 BT, Lille
Germany is Germany, everyone. They're the reigning World Cup champions, are chock full of stars who play together well, and haven't allowed a single goal in this tournament. They've averaged 71.9% possession so far at Euro 2016. 71.9%! They're just plain good. Thomas Muller will look to score his first Euro goal today, Mario Gomez will look to tie Jurgen Klinsmann for the German record of 5.
Slovakia hope to build off their performances against Russia and England and pull off the biggest upset of the tournament, but they might have a reason to be confident: they beat Germany just last month, 3-1. Slovakia scored three goals on four shots in that one, with Marek Hamsik, Michal Duris, and Juraj Kucka finding the net. That has to be their focus: repeat that performance and steal the biggest game in their nation's history. Good luck to them.
TIAT Prediction: Germany 2 - Slovakia 0.
Hungary vs. Belgium: 20:00 BT, Toulouse
Where did Hungary come from? The 20th ranked side in the world leads the tournament with 6 goals, and their performance against Portugal was something special to win their difficult group. They'll need to hold on to that magic against Belgium, an underperforming side at this tournament, but an incredibly talented one nonetheless (they're ranked #2 in the world, you know).
The Red Devils are loaded with stars: Lukaku, Benteke, Origi, de Bruyne, Mertens, Fellaini, Courtois... the list goes on and on. And Eden Hazard has to show up for his national team at some point right? Belgium has kept clean sheets in their last two matches, but they'll face their biggest challenge against Hungary's suddenly potent attack. Sleepy so far in France, I think Belgium wakes up just in time and pulls off the "upset" here... only to face Gareth Bale and Wales in the Quarterfinals.
TIAT Prediction: Belgium 3 - Hungary 1.
That's it for our day two preview. Which game are you most looking forward to? I know for most of our readers it's probably that first one, but Germany and Belgium always provide great storylines 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