So the round of 16 knockout phase is here and after a 2 day break from football, everybody is chomping at the bit to get some Euro 2016 action back into their lives.
We kick off the knockout rounds with a game that we predicted would actually take place before the tournament even started, though how these 2 teams got here was not as smooth as anticipated and it should prove a very tight affair.
Switzerland came into the tournament with a decent record in the qualifiers only losing 3, with 2 of those defeats coming to the unbeaten England however; they have struggled in the finals with 2 draws against Romania and France, the second of these being a bit of a lucky escape against a weakened French team, and 1 victory against Albania which was 1-0 due to a goalkeeping error. So it's safe to say that they have not set the tournament alight and watching them has not been particularly entertaining. Their coach Vladimir Petkovic will be hoping for more from the Swiss in the knockout stage, they need to play quicker and be more expansive or Poland have the quality to send them packing. If the Switzerland from the group stages turns up, it could be curtains for them in this tournament.
Poland on the other hand enter the knockout stage undefeated so will feel slightly aggrieved that they couldn't top the group, losing out only on goal difference. That unbeaten run however is not as cut and dry as it seems, they only managed to score 2 goals in 3 games with 2 1-0 victories and a 0-0 draw. That lack of goals in a team that boasts Robert Lewandowski is very concerning. Poland will still feel that they can turn Switzerland over and the Swiss will need to defend well to keep the Poles out however, the Swiss are also very quick on the counter attack and have players that can hurt Poland. Poland will need to keep their concentration and play the way they can and I fancy them to win this game and progress to the quarter finals.
I think Poland should win this one, Switzerland have looked dodgy at the back, they conceded a daft penalty against Romania and should've conceded against France and Albania but got a bit of luck. That luck could run out against Poland who have an excellent strike force backed up by lots of pace on the flanks. Switzerland will struggle to contain them.
Everyone's money will be on Poland however, the Swiss only conceded 2 goals in 3 games and the Poles only scored 2 in 3. If Switzerland can keep Poland at bay then this could well go to penalties with Switzerland pulling it off, we've seen it so many times in international tournaments and this one seems to be full of surprises, the odds of this should be decent and worth a couple of quid at least.
Based on the records of these 2 teams in the Group Stage, I cannot see this being a high scoring game. It would have to go completely against how these 2 teams have approached the tournament if so. I do think Poland will win in the 90 minutes but it will only be by the 1 goals margin.
This will be a game that relies heavily on tactics and a solid defence from either side. I don't think either will break the other down in the first half and they will just be getting a feel for each other however, 1 of them should lose concentration in the second half and I think it will be Switzerland, allowing Poland to scrape through to the quarter finals.
Blaszczykowski is a brilliant player who has done a lot for Poland over the years, including scoring the winner in the last group game. He has lots of pace, loves a go at goal and he has captained his country on numerous occasions in the absence of Lewandowski. He is more than capable of deciding this tie and I imagine his odds will be quite decent too, worth a punt definitely.
Both of these teams have only been involved in 1 game this tournament that saw more than 1 goal. That speaks volumes here. I think this game will be decided 1-0 one way or the other so its definitely worth sticking on under 1.5 goals or if you're feeling even braver and think it will go to extra time and/or penalties, then go for under 0.5 goals.