Yesterday, France, Germany, and Belgium all showed up when it counted. If Ireland could've held their composure in the last 30 minutes, they had the best chance of surprising the world and crushing the dreams of the host nation, but Slovakia and Hungary performed about as well as everyone expected before the tournament against the top teams in the world. No surprises.
I went 3-0 on predictions yesterday, but that wasn't difficult. Today's though? No idea. Italy and Spain face off at 17:00, and England and Iceland finish the round off at 20:00. They're easily the most exciting matchups of the round, and I couldn't be more excited. Hope you are too.
Here at the blog, we finish off the knockout phase by giving you a quick rundown of today's fixtures, pointing out what to watch for, making two quick predictions, and wishing all of you Englishmen the best of luck.
Can't wait for today. Can't wait for the quarter-finals either. Enjoy it all.
The Knockout Phase
Day Three: Monday, 27 June
Italy vs. Spain: 17:00 BT, Saint-Denis
Italy and Spain. It's a shame one of these two won't make the quarterfinals, but that's what happens when you lose your final games to Ireland and Croatia respectively, two teams knocked out already this weekend. Well, Italy had their group locked up, but come on Spain, you're better than that.
Or are you? The 6th ranked team in the world hasn't been nearly as dominant of late, but they've won the last two Euros (2008, 2012) and that's a pretty good record to stand on. Maybe this is when they turn it on, as Germany did yesterday. Spain's starting eleven of Nolito, Morata, Silva, Iniesta, Busquets, Fabregas, Alba, Ramos, Pique, Juanfran, and de Gea was the same in all three group games, so you can expect the same today. It's just a crazy good team if they're all playing their best game. Croatia took them out of their element a bit.
And that's what Italy does best. Though there were doubts about the Azzurri coming into the tournament, they've played their style of football: defensive and boring. It's not pretty but it works, and the 700 year old Gianluigi Buffon is the rock they're all built upon. If they can hold Spain's aging starting eleven to a goal or less, I see Italy winning a close match, but that's a tall order in the knockout phase, and this, apparently, is when the talent starts to perform. Can't wait for this match.
TIAT Prediction: Spain 2 - Italy 0.
England vs. Iceland: 20:00 BT, Nice
What a match to end this round with for us Leeds fans. The last time these two teams faced each other, England won 6-1 in June 2004, but you can expect this one to be a bit closer. I know you'll read a million previews about this match, so I'll just give you some quick hit facts:
England are unbeaten in their last 10 games at the Euros, shootouts excluded, so let's avoid that today.
They've peppered the opposing goalkeepers in this tournament, outshooting their opponents by +46, but they've only outscored them by +1. +46!
If Wayne Rooney plays, which he most likely will, it will be his 115th cap, equalling David Beckham's record for most games by an English outfield player. And he scored two goals in that 2004 game against Iceland.
England need to win this match. That's also a fact.
On the other side, Iceland will be proud to have made it to the knockout stage in their first ever major tournament, but they'll also be hungry to knock out "the home of football" in the biggest match in their nation's history. Their keeper, Hannes Thor Halldorsson, has made more saves than any other keeper in the tournament, and when you couple that with England's prolific shooting differential, he can expect to be busy. Iceland drew with Portugal 1-1, drew with Hungary 1-1, and topped Austria 2-1 in the group stage's final match. The call on that goal is already something of internet legend.
Sono seriamente preoccupato per il telecronista islandese pic.twitter.com/H5UFxstjdh— Daniele Mari (@danmari83) June 22, 2016
But let's hope that that's the best moment Iceland has at this tournament. England needs a win, both on the field and off it right now, and if Roy can find the right combination on the field at the right time... (Vardy? Kane? Rooney? Sturridge? Sterling apparently? Anyone but Wilshere?) ...they should definitely move on to their Quarterfinal matchup against the hosts. An England - France match could be the most entertaining of the round (though Germany - whoever will be epic too).
TIAT Prediction: England 2 - Iceland 1. (Because nothing England does is ever easy.)
That's it for the knockout phase previews. Which game are you most looking forward to today? Never mind, they're both going to be amazing. I can't wait. Think I was off on my predictions though? Let me hear it on Twitter, Facebook, and in the comments below.
Can't wait for August, but this Euro stuff sure will do for now. Come on, England. #MOT