In a day that started slow and became a lot more entertaining, both Italy and Spain clinched their place in the round of 16. The Italians beat Sweden with a late goal by Eder, while the defending champions cruised with grace and flair against Turkey. The Czech Republic kept their hopes of qualifying alive by forcing a draw against a much better Croatia team.
Spain are the first team in this tournament to score three goals in one match; The 2-2 draw between the Czechs and Croatia is the highest scoring match in Euro 2016 thus far, with an average of 1.95 goals per match through 20 of them.
Italy 1 Sweden 0: Things were much more difficult for Italy against a Swedish team that wasn’t too inclined to open up their formation, forcing Italy to dominate possession and look for goals without a lot of space to roam in. However, Sweden are one of the more disappointing teams in this tournament, rarely doing anything to make Gianluigi Buffon sweat or stretch. Eder broke through in the finish to provide some clinical finishing in front of goal, and put Italy in the next round.
Czech Republic 2 Croatia 2: As close as possible to highway robbery in this tournament, with the Czechs doing absolutely nothing for 75 minutes, and then somehow rescuing a point, ruining Croatia’s chances of qualifying after the match, although they might be in deeper trouble because of their fans throwing flares on the pitch. Hopefully the fans, and not the national side, are punished. In a very dominant performance, Ivan Perisic (in the 37th minute) and Ivan Rakitic (in the 59th after a terrible mistake in the Czech defense) scored for Croatia, who also saw Luka Modric leave with some pain in his groin, while a Milan Skoda header and an 89th minute penalty by Tomas Necid kept the Czechs alive for one more match.
Spain 3 Turkey 0: As predicted, Spain’s ability and clinical finishing was too much for a Turkish team that just doesn’t have the talent to fight back or the defensive discipline to pose a problem for a Spanish team that struggles when you take away space and force them to passing in uncomfortable spots. Alvaro Morata scored twice and Nolito added a third in a next-generation kind of statement, not to mention proving that they might be the team to beat in the tournament, which fits their defending champions (twice in a row) title. They’re through to the next round as well.
Group D Table
|1||Spain (A)||2||2||0||0||4||0||+4||6||Advance to knockout phase|
|3||Czech Republic||2||0||1||1||2||3||−1||1||Possible knockout phase based on ranking|
(A) Advance to a further round; (X) Assured of top three finish; (Y) Cannot finish in top two
Group E Table
|1||Italy (A)||2||2||0||0||3||0||+3||6||Advance to knockout phase|
|2||Republic of Ireland||1||0||1||0||1||1||0||1|
|3||Sweden||2||0||1||1||1||2||−1||1||Possible knockout phase based on ranking|
(A) Advance to a further round
What did we learn
- Italy have a strong side and excellent defense, but despite making it into the round of 16, they showed their problems when it comes to cracking a defense and being forced to take the initiative
- Sweden are extremely disappointing. No creativity, no ideas on how to bring some life into their game, and above all else, Zlatan Ibrahimovic was nowhere to be found against Italy
- The Czechs, maybe for the first time in a while, are weaker than Slovakia by a big margin. But they took advantage of Modric leaving and the mayhem in the stands to steal a point, and somehow hope their football gets better before their third match
- A fantastic team, with balance and discipline while Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic navigate the side effortlessly. However, their choke-job against the Czechs suggests they might not be good enough to make a serious impact on the tournament
- Dimitri Payet (France), Bogdan Stancu (Romania), Alvaro Morata (Spain), Gareth Bale (Wales): 2 goals
- 33 different players with one goal each