The final last 16 tie of Euro 2016 ended on Monday evening with England beaten 2-1 by underdogs Iceland in Nice. It was a horrific night for Roy Hodgson and his men with not only a premature elimination to deal with, but also one of the most embarrassing defeats in the history of the English national team.
The eight last 16 ties threw up plenty of talking points, not least England’s failure to perform on the big stage once more. Only eight teams remain and its all to play for in France:
England not good enough – as usual
With their defeat to Iceland, England have now only progressed from two of their last ten knockout ties in major international tournaments, against Denmark in the 2002 World Cup and Ecuador in the 2006 World Cup.
Departing manager Roy Hodgson won only three of his eleven games in charge of the Three Lions at World Cup and European Championship final combined, with England’s ten-out-of-ten record in Euro 2016 qualifying now a distant and rather pointless memory.
England have perennially flattered to deceive on the big stage, with their performance against Iceland ridiculed from all corners. They managed only one shot on target in the second half – a tame Harry Kane header – with Hodgson’s tactics and substitutions often baffling.
A rebuild job is imminent, with Hodgson’s resignation in the aftermath of the defeat on Monday the first step. Many believe a radical change of playing staff is required, however, with every single player letting their country down – and not for the first time.
End of an era for Spain?
There was a time where Vicente del Bosque’s Spain ruled the world. Starting with their first ever European Championship triumph in 2008, Spain went on the claim the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and then successfully defend their Euro crown in Poland and Ukraine in 2012.
Unless you’re PSG in Ligue 1, however, absolute dominance is always temporary in football, with Spain unceremoniously dumped out of the 2014 World Cup in the group stage, with La Roja’s loss to Italy on Monday in the last 16 of Euro 2016 further testament to the fact that Spain’s Golden Generation may have had their day.
Antonio Conte’s Italy side kept Spain at bay throughout the match at the Stade de France, emerging 2-0 winners thanks to goals from Giorgio Chiellini and Graziano Pellè. Amazingly, it was the first time Spain had conceded in the knockout round of a Euro finals since former France winger Youri Djorkaeff’s strike in 2000.
The Azzurri were magnificent in possession and even better without it, cutting off supply lines and frustrating Spain’s flair players, with Danielle De Rossi particularly impressive in the middle of the park.
Spain now head home after another disappointing international tournament, with Italy marching on to play Germany in the quarters as the footballing landscape continues to change.
Portugal keep up their amazing Euro record
Fernando Santos’ side’s 1-0 extra-time win over Croatia on Saturday means that Portugal have never excited a European Championship earlier than the quarter-finals, stretching back across seven tournaments since 1984.
A Selecção have finished as semi-finalists three times, quarter-finalists twice and as runners-up in 2004. While they have never won the tournament, their’s is a particularly impressive record – and wouldn’t Cristiano Ronaldo love to lead his side to Portugal’s maiden European Championship crown this summer.
They face Poland in the last eight on Thursday and will fancy their chances, despite having only won one game so far in France.
The Race for the Golden Boot
With Spain exciting the competition on Monday, joint-top scorer Alvaro Morata can no longer add to his three goal tally, leaving a number of players ready to take advantage and claim the Euro 2016 golden boot.
Both Antoine Griezmann and Gareth Bale are on three with Morata and remain in the competition, with the French taking on Iceland on Sunday and Wales facing Belgium on Friday.
Eleven other players are bubbling under with two goals, with seven still active in the competition – including one Cristiano Ronaldo.
Eden Hazard to Steal the Show?
While the likes of Dimitri Payet and Gareth Bale have performed wonders at the Euros, arguably no-one can match the brilliance of Belgian captain Eden Hazard against Hungary on Sunday, with the Chelsea man decimating the Hungarian backline from start to finish, capping off his superb display with a brilliantly taken solo goal to score his side’s third.
Belgium face Wales in the last eight, with the match billed as a face-off between Hazard and Bale. Both have attained talismanic status for their respective nations, and you feel that whoever comes out on top at Stadium Municipal in Toulouse will be in the running for player of the tournament.