Euro 2016: 5 players to watch out for in the quarter-finals
It’s only a matter of time now before the quarter-finals of Euro 2016 commence. So far this summer’s European Championship has been a highly contested one with not too many one-sided encounters and some pretty exciting matches. With some of the top ranked nations not playing up to their standards in the group stages, the tournament has become wide open with one-half of the knockout stage draw featuring some of the pre-tournament favourites and the other half consisting of the tournament’s dark horses.
As a result, heavyweights Italy and Spain locked horns in the round of 16 with Italy taking revenge over Spain for their 2012 final defeat at Kiev. However, England couldn’t take advantage from their easy draw as they were beaten by a resilient Iceland team who continue their dream run in their first major tournament.
The quarter-finals feature some nail-biting clashes which includes Germany taking on rivals Italy at Bordeaux and two of the tournament’s dark horses Wales and Belgium facing off at Lille. Another dark horse encounter features Poland and Portugal at Marseille while hosts France take on surprise package Iceland at Saint-Denis.
With only hours remaining before Poland and Portugal get the quarter-finals underway, let’s take a look at 5 players to look out for in the last eight.
#1 Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal
Portugal’s talisman had a poor start to his tournament as he couldn’t score in Portugal’s opening two matches against Iceland and Austria, missing a penalty in the latter. However, he found his form in Portugal’s 3-3 draw against Hungary as he scored a brace and provided an assist, thus rescuing Portugal from an embarrassing group stage exit.
In Portugal’s 1-0 win over Croatia in the last 16, it was Ronaldo’s shot whose rebound was headed in the back of the net by Ricardo Quaresma. The Portugal captain has so far had an OK tournament as apart from the match Hungary, he hasn’t been able to make a significant impact in the tournament so far.
Ronaldo will be looking to come a step closer in fulfilling his dream of winning a major tournament with Portugal as the Selecao take on a Polish side who have been quite resilient at the back, conceding only one goal throughout the tournament. Portugal might be the favourites to steal a semi-final spot but they will require Ronaldo’s killer instinct to overcome an impressive Polish defence.