The knockout rounds kick off on Saturday afternoon and Jake Jackman returns with a preview and his selections to follow.
Saturday 25th June 2016 – 14:00 BST
EURO 2016 – ROUND OF 16
SWITZERLAND v POLAND
These two developing football nations have a great chance of going deep into Euro 2016 after qualifying into the last 16. Neither have lit up the tournament to date, but they are on the kinder side of the draw, and will not have to face one of the historically big nations until the final. The likes of Wales, Belgium and Portugal will offer firm tests, but none of them are as formidable as Germany, France or Spain. Switzerland haven’t got deep into a tournament since 1954, when they made the World Cup quarter final, meanwhile Poland last made it out of the group stages at the 1986 World Cup. This is a great opportunity for both to put their mark on an international tournament.
Switzerland weren’t great in the group stages, picking up one win and two draws. Their unbeaten record will give them confidence going into this match, as they are hard to beat and have some match-winners in attack. The likes of Xherdan Shaqiri and Breel Embolo have yet to make their mark on this tournament, but that doesn’t mean that they won’t worry Poland. The defensive unit has been very impressive, with the likes of Granit Xhaka and Yann Sommer impressing observers. They played well against France, which will boost them going into the match against an inferior opposition in Poland.
Meanwhile, Poland have had a similar tournament, albeit picking up two extra points, with two wins and a draw in the group stages. They were also the better side in the Group C match against Germany, and on another day would have beaten the world champions. Their defensive record is even better than the Swiss, as they have yet to concede a goal. Germany struggled to create clear cut opportunities against them, and they are definitely a side that is capable of going deep into the competition, even more so given their potential run to the final. Robert Lewandowski has yet to score a goal, but Ajax’s Arkadiusz Milik has been a bright spot in attack.
Given the sides both have impressive defensive records, and lack invention in attack, under 2.5 goals is a smart bet for this one. Between them, they have scored just four goals and conceded only one across six matches. They will both set up to frustrate the opposition and hope that one of their attackers can produce a moment of magic. I certainly don’t expect this match to be a great watch. The last meeting between the sides came in November 2014, with the result being a 2-2 draw. I don’t think that this match will not have as many goals.
In terms of a result, I fancy Poland to come out on top, they have the better players in attack, while their defence has a huge amount of confidence. Switzerland have looked far less threatening in attack and have shown that they can be broken down, with Albania, Romania and France all creating clear-cut chances against them. I think Poland will pick up another 1-0 win, and Robert Lewandowski may even be the one to step up when it matters most.