The knockouts of the 2016 European Championships have arrived. Bayern Munich fans can rejoice because only David Alaba didn’t make it out of the group stage. Or maybe you should weep because there’s more chance for injury? Or maybe we should wish for no injuries while reminding ourselves either way we get to watch some of the world’s best players play more football.
The OH MY GOD LOOK AT THIS SIDE OF THE BRACKET side of the bracket
Germany, Spain, Italy, England, and France all ended up on the same side of the bracket. This is going to be a ratings dream.
Players: Jerome Boateng, Thomas Müller, Manuel Neuer, Mario Götze, Joshua Kimmich, Mats Hummels
Germany finished first in Group C. Their reward is to play Slovakia which is a fitting reward in that it’s the Bundesliga’s best Germans against a motley collection of other Bundesliga talent. It should at the very least be a very entertaining fixture. The real test comes in the quarterfinals as if Germany advance they’ll face the winner of the Spain/Italy game. So I guess the old adage, to be the best you have to beat the best, really applies to this edition of the European championships.
Germany play in the Round of 16 against Slovakia, Sunday, June 26th, 12:00pm ET
Players: Thiago Alcantara
The defending European champions won the right to have the most heinous knockout stage title fight in recent history. Nabbing Italy right out of the gate for a Euro 2012 final re-match potentially followed by a meeting with what will in all likelihood be Germany before potentially squaring off against what in all likelihood will be France or England before finally making the final and having to win in front of a 2 billion person audience. Yeah, the crown sits heavily on the head.
Spain play in the Round of 16 against Italy: Monday 27 June, 12:00pm ET
Players: Kingsley Coman
France vs Ireland should be the cakewalk of the knockouts given the Irish have been extremely poor and squeaked in by virtue of what could very well be the worst set of performances of Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s career. After that it’s gets precipitously more difficult for the hosts. They’ll need Kingsley Coman’s guile, speed, and 1v1 ability if they’re going to make it far in this tournament as he’s really the only wing-based aggressive threat they have on their roster and that’s a tactical tool that’s very necessary against the better sides in Europe.
France play in the Round of 16 against Ireland: Sunday 26 June, 9:00am ET
The other side of the bracket
With the bulk of the biggest teams concentrated on the other side of the bracket, this side is a dark horse favorites dream. From Poland to Portugal to Switzerland to Belgium to Croatia, there are a lot of teams with some of the world’s most talented players who could ride them all the way to a place in the finals.
Players: Robert Lewandowski
Guys, it’s Robert Lewandowski vs Granit Xhaka. This is going to be so much fun. I don’t care if you don’t agree, I’m going to have so much fun watching this game.
Poland play in the Round of 16 against Switzerland: Saturday, June 25th, 9:00am ET
Players: Renato Sanches
For being a last minute inclusion due to injury Renato Sanches sure has played a great deal of minutes and been a critical piece of Portugal’s late game strategy. Against a Croatia side with a midfield composed of Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic, this is going to be a truly stellar match where Sanches’ work rate and two-way ability could come to show Bayern Munich fans just how impressive he can be.
Portugal play in the Round of 16 against Croatia: Saturday 25 June, 3:00pm ET