06June_BlogHeader_EurosQuarterFinals
We’re down to the last eight at Euro 2016 and there are a few surprises in among the big boys. Hosts France face the tournament’s tiniest nation, Iceland (125-1 outsiders at the start), and Wales take on a Belgian team ranked second in the world. Before the next round gets underway, Azimo asks who’s going to win and what are the best goals so far?

Portugal vs Poland

30th June, Stade Velodrome, Marseille

Poland vs Portugal is being billed as the Ronaldo vs Lewandowski show, but the Bayern Munich superstar striker has been in pretty iffy form during the group games and is still waiting to get his name on the scoresheet. Luckily for him, though, his teammates have only let in one goal at the other end.

Despite the inflated opinion Cristiano Ronaldo may have of himself, Portugal are a long way from being a one-man band. They’ve never won the Euros, but they’ve come very close and have made it to the knockout stages again. CR7 scored twice against Hungary, but Poland will provide a far tougher test.

Azimo prediction:

Poland win 1-0

Wales vs Belgium

1st July, Stade Pierre-Mauroy, Lille

The last time Wales made it to a major tournament was nearly 60 years ago, when they reached the last eight – only to go out to a goal from a lad called Pele. Fast forward to 2016 and they’ve somehow got to the same stage again, thanks in no small part to the genius of Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale.

Belgium have gone from zeros to heroes in the last decade and are ranked second in the world behind Argentina. They were well beaten by Italy in their opening match, but Eden Hazard et al have now found their shooting boots and the match is being played about ten miles from the Belgian border.

Azimo prediction:

Belgium win 2-1

France vs Iceland

3rd July, Stade de France, Paris

Hosts France have a team loaded with talent, from goalie Lloris to striker Payet, and home support helps – the last time Les Bleus held a major footie tournament, in 1998, they ended up parading the trophy down the Champs-Elysees. Iceland’s volcanic rise could be about to freeze to a halt in Paris.

Mighty minnows Iceland have shown plenty of Viking spirit in the competition so far. Their surnames may sound the same (all 11 players in their last match ended in ‘son’), but they showed plenty of individual heroics to put England out of the tournament and England manager Roy Hodgson out of a job.

Azimo prediction:

France win 3-0

Italy vs Germany

2nd July, Stade de Bordeaux, Bordeaux

Italy have been a class act this summer, scoring goals galore, defending like giants, winning the award for most over-excitable manager (take a bow, Antonio Conte) and brushing aside reigning champions Spain in their last match with a passionate, pitch-perfect display.

Joachim Low’s mighty Germany are the current World Champions and most people were expecting them to at least make it to the final in Paris. They’ve won all but one of their games so far, but there’s one stat hanging over them – they’ve never beaten Italy in eight previous tournament meetings.

Azimo prediction:

Italy win on penalties

FIVE FANTASTIC GOALS

1. Xherdan Shaqiri, Switzerland vs Poland


This outrageous overhead kick in the 82nd minute from Stoke City midfielder Shaqiri saved Switzerland’s bacon against the Poles, taking the game to extra time and penalties. Sadly for Shaqiri, though, it wasn’t enough – the Swiss lost out from the spot.

2. Eden Hazard, Belgium vs Hungary


Hazard may have disappointed for Chelsea in the Premier League last season, but he’s keeping Belgium in France with some stunning goals and assists – none more so than this slinky run and shot against the Magyars.

3. Dimitri Payet, France vs Romania


West Ham wonderkid Payet left it late when he hit a rocket into the top corner in the 89th minute against Romania to seal victory in the opening game. But it was worth the wait – he’s now being chased by Europe’s biggest clubs.

4. Jerome Boateng, Germany vs Slovakia


Boateng picked the biggest stage to score his first international goal after nearly seven years, and it was a champagne moment for the Bayern Munich defender as he slammed home a 25-yard volley in the eighth minute.

5. Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal vs Hungary


Ronaldo started Euro 2016 poorly, but the Real Madrid legend picked up the pace big time with this wonderfully cheeky back-heeled flick against hapless Hungary. Spurred on, he doubled his goal tally just 11 minutes later.