The round of 16 stage continues, with the hosts France playing against Ireland, Germany facing Slovakia, and Hungary meeting Belgium.
France vs Ireland: The revenge angle is being played quite a lot heading into this match, but Thierry Henry isn’t an active player anymore, and the 2010 World Cup is ancient history. Ireland have had their ups and downs in the tournament, but just for the tremendous support they’ve been getting in the streets and in the stadium they’re worth keeping around. Problem is their football hasn’t been great, while France, despite their 0-0 draw against Switzerland to cap off the group stage, have been playing well, and enjoy a huge advantage in the midfield. Ireland could hit them on counter attacks, but this will probably be a match with Ireland pegged back and hoping for an opening, while their defense and so-so goalkeeper try to hold down the fort.
Germany vs Slovakia: Despite going undefeated in the group stage and not conceding any goals, Germany are a disappointment. Thomas Muller still hasn’t scored, the German defense doesn’t project confidence on the rest of the team, and it’s just been quite far from what’s expected of the defending World Champions. Slovakia won’t make it easy. Marek Hamsik has been fantastic in this tournament, Vladimir Weiss is always a danger, especially in space, which Germany which surely leave him. An early goal, as always, could turn this into a bore, and maybe a Germany performance. Slovakia have a decent defense, but not a great one. Luck had a lot to do with them not conceding against England. Germany can be just as dangerous.
Hungary vs Belgium: Hungary are an old squad. They lack talent, and along with Northern Ireland, probably present the least impressive group of players in this tournament. But they play good football, they give their star, Balazs Dzsudzsak, space to work with, and he’s giving them his best football in years. Belgium have had one good match in this tournament, facing Ireland. To not allow Hungary to hit them on the counter attack, it’ll take the kind of clever football Belgium rarely play. However, their talent, with Kevin de Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku as the main guys to turn talent into goals, could break loose early enough to show just how good they are.