The final match day of Euro 2016’s round of 16, as last time’s final gets a rematch with Italy taking on Spain, while England will try to avoid being the next team to be swallowed up by the Icelandic storm.
Italy vs Spain: This match will be very much like most Italy-Spain matches. A whole lot of possession by the Spanish, and Italy trying to take advantage of what they can. In Euro 2012 it ended in two ways: A 1-1 draw in the group stage, followed by a 4-0 demolition in the final. But Spain aren’t good enough anymore for that kind of performance. The good news for them is that in Euro 2008 they also met Italy in the knockout stage and won, although they needed penalty kicks. Italy will try to make life uncomfortable for Andres Iniesta. Despite the talent of La Roja, it’s Iniesta who moves the chains, and we’ll see an Italian midfield focused on preventing him from running free. Once he’s free, it’ll probably be up to Alvaro Morata to find the net. FOr Italy, it’s hard to pinpoint someone who can create problems for the Spanish defense on his own, but if it’s going to happen, it’ll probably come from the left wing and the space behind it, as Spain do have an issue at right back, as exposed by Croatia.
England vs Iceland: In all of their matches in this tournament, England have played well. However, they failed to score against Slovakia despite plenty of chances, somehow let 3 points slip away from them against Russia, and needed a stoppage time goal to beat Wales. Iceland will probably stick to their approach of organized, tight, disciplined defense, learning from what Slovakia succeeded in. In order to find their way through without getting exposed too much, England need to keep away from the crosses, and find their way through with short passes near the box, while hoping Harry Kane or whoever Roy Hodgson chooses to start with is having an accurate day in front of goal. Missing so many opportunities won’t go unpunished this time, with Kolbeinn Sigthorsson and Jon Dadi Bodvarsson waiting to pounce on chances they get.