We are now getting further into knockout stages of this summer’s Euro 2016 tournament, with today being the beginning of the Round of 16. Every game is now vital to every team, as a loss means elimination from the tournament. In one of today’s three fixtures, outsiders Croatia take on a rather reluctant Portugal side in what should be an even battle, which could see one great moment or one controversial one deciding the outcome. Who will come out on top? Here are a low down on each sides chances in today’s later kick off.
Croatia have been outstanding so far this tournament. In getting to this stage they have proven their class beating the likes of Spain and Turkey. They welcome back Luka Modric and Mario Mandzukic in tonight’s fixture after missing them in the Spain win. This will help their chances incredibly. Luka Modric has the class and consistency to win at any level, he is therefore a huge asset to the Croatia team and could be influential in the side getting the victory to progress tonight.
Modric isn’t the only class act within this Croatia side. Another player to be on the look out for in tonight’s game is Inter Milan winger Ivan Perisic. He has worked tirelessly so far this tournament, working hard and scoring 2 goals for Croatia during the group stage. If he is to continue this scoring form he could be in contention for the golden boot, which he will be wary of. So he will be looking to perform well once again for his nation tonight.
Overall Croatia look to have a very strong line-up and are going to take some beating. They aren’t short on confidence and have a team including Champions League winners who are capable of great things. The key for Portugal I think is to try and break up Croatia’s midfield and not allow them time on the ball, which I’m sure they’ll be looking to do.
As for Portugal, I’m sure they’ll be looking to improve on an unconvincing group stage. They struggled at times despite the strength in their side. This in turn, will make them the underdogs for that fixture but with a squad of this depth that shouldn’t be the case. If they play control possession and chances like we know they can, they could quickly and easily put Croatia under pressure.
All eyes will be on Ballon D’or winner Christiano Ronaldo. The Real Madrid front-man hasn’t got up to full speed yet but this won’t be a problem. He is a top performer, who can change games in an instant. Portugal will need him to be at his best tonight. They’ll be looking for a strong performance from Ronaldo if they are to win.
Portugal do have the talent elsewhere to carry them across the line against Croatia. They need to utilise the wings, particularly with their top goalscorer of the tournament, Nani, who will, like Perisic, be looking to improve his goal tally. Portugal as I said, have the depth to go on to great things, they have a strong midfield capable of stopping Croatia. They also have some exciting younger players progressing through the squad at this tournament including 18-year-old midfielder Renato Sanches, who looks to be showing great potential. As well as Valencia Midfielder Andre Gomes, who at 22-years-old can also control Portugal’s midfield and if allowed to the game.
Overall, both teams will fancy their chance of winning tonight’s game and it doesn’t appear to be a one-sided fixture on paper. Both teams match up evenly which should make for a strong competitive fixture. Going on form, I feel if Croatia can control the game in midfield, they will be putting themselves in a great position to win the match but if chances come to Portugal and particularly Ronaldo, I can’t see him missing them.