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Five talking points ahead of the Euro 2024 Round of 16

Five talking points ahead of the Euro 2024 Round of 16, featuring Germany’s selection headache and England’s ‘favourable’ draw.

Will Germany change a winning formula?

Germany progressed to the Round of 16 with ease as the host nation made light work of Group A. Julian Nagelsmann’s side’s performances have suggested Germany are contenders to be crowned champions on home soil, after bouncing back from a difficult 2023.

The Germans take on Denmark on Saturday evening, in a rematch of the memorable 1992 final that saw the Danes shock Europe. Ahead of the clash, Nagelsmann faces a major decision on his team with Niclas Füllkrug banging on the door for inclusion.

The 31-year-old scored twice off the bench in the group stage and has now scored four goals in six tournament appearances for Germany, all of which have come from the bench.

Those four goals have come in just 139 minutes of action, averaging a goal every 34.75 minutes in tournament football. It’s a phenomenal record and one that will be giving his manager a headache ahead of the knockout rounds.

Euro 2024 – Confirmed round of 16 fixtures and kick-off times

Holders have it all to prove

It’s not often the holders of a major tournament are barely being discussed but Italy fall into that category. The Azzurri were surprise champions at Euro 2020 in a success built on the formidable old-guard partnership of Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci at centre-back. The two titans of the backline are now gone, however, and this version of Italy has looked far from favourites to go deep into the tournament.

In the group stage, Italy conceded the earliest goal in European Championship history against Albania, were outclassed in defeat to Spain, and required a 98th-minute goal from Mattia Zaccagni to seal progress at Croatia’s expense. It’s been far from plain sailing.

Switzerland are first up in the knockouts and this is perhaps a more even tie than history would suggest. The Swiss were solid in the group stage and have reached the knockout rounds in six straight major tournaments. However, they’ve progressed from just one of their last seven last-16 ties – on penalties against France at Euro 2020.

Iconic Duos – Leonardo Bonucci, Giorgio Chiellini, and contemporary Catenaccio

Georgia’s fearless fairytale continues

Georgia have been the story of the tournament so far with the lowest-ranked team at Euro 2024 beating Portugal to reach the knockout rounds. On their major tournament debut, Georgia have upset the odds and now take on a Spain team who have been the most impressive side at the finals this summer.

It’s as David vs Goliath as tournament football gets, and despite a small sprinkling of star talent in Willy Sagnol’s squad, Georgia will begin as huge underdogs in Cologne.

It’s worth remembering that Georgia finished fourth in a five-team qualification group, that included the Spanish, with their only victories coming against a Cyprus side that ended the campaign without a point.

Just 10 months ago, Alvaro Morata hit a hat-trick as Spain romped to a 7-1 win in Tbilisi. Few would have envisaged a rematch between the teams in the last 16 of Euro 2024.

Euro 2024 – Best XI from the tournament’s group stage

Draw opens up for England

Gareth Southgate’s critics have been out in voice over the past fortnight. England have qualified for the knockout rounds as group winners, but there’s been little to cheer following three underwhelming and unimaginative performances from the Three Lions.

Southgate’s detractors have long insisted the England manager has been fortunate with draws in major tournaments, with runs to the semi-final of the 2018 World Cup and Euro 2020 final comprised of wins over Colombia, Sweden, Germany, Ukraine and Denmark in knockout round ties.

Germany – who went out in the group stage of the World Cups either side of Euro 2020 – aside, England were expected to beat each of the opponents faced. When faced with tougher tests, England have wilted.

Southgate, however, has been handed another dose of good fortune. France and Belgium’s surprise runners-up finishes in the group stage have thrown them into the other half of the draw, alongside other fancied nations Germany, Portugal and Spain. England cannot face any of those opponents until the final, with the Netherlands (7th) the highest-ranked team on their side of the draw. An unexpected boost for Southgate and his squad, after a troubled tournament to date.

Read – Our Euro 2024 awards for the group stage

Dark Horses could deliver cracker

Austria and Turkey entered this summer’s tournament tagged as potential dark horses. Each have lived up to that billing to an extent, progressing to the Round of 16.

Austria have been a fantastic watch under Ralf Rangnick with their breathless brand of football, as the Godfather of the Gegenpress has demanded lung-busting intensity from his team. Having topped a group containing the Netherlands and favourites France, Austria will fear no team in the tournament and have been placed on the more favourable side of the draw.

Turkey, meanwhile, have been another must-watch team. Vincenzo Montella’s men’s mix of attacking talent and defensive vulnerability has made for a compelling cocktail. Their win over Georgia was box-office, while tempers spilt over in victory over the Czech Republic.

The Crescent-Stars will be keen to avenge a 6-1 defeat to Austria during March’s international break, just the 15th time the team have conceded 5+ goals in a game in their 629-game history.

Read – Five unexpected stars of the Euro 2024 group stage

See more – Five players who deserve more minutes at Euro 2024

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