With the formalities of the Euro 2024 group stage in the books, attention quickly shifts to the dramatic phase of the competition: the knockouts. There are no more second or third chances for teams. Cruel fate will have a hand in the demise of some teams, while moments of individual brilliance will carry other nations deeper into the draw.

With the group stage delivering some major upsets, such as Slovakia beating Belgium, Georgia toppling Portugal, and both Denmark and Slovenia holding a certain team who shan’t be mentioned to draws, it has been good viewing. Now, with the knockout stage of Euro 2024 ramping up the intensity and drama, here is a look at the group stage performances for some predictors about what may unfold in the rest of the competition.

Austria: won 2; drawn 0; lost 1; goals for 6; goals against 4

Austria were easily one of the surprise packages of the group stage, though maybe they shouldn’t have been after a good qualification campaign. Under Ralf Rangnick, they have a clear game plan, pressing with high energy and attacking swiftly, and they are also remarkably well-drilled at the back. Austria were one of the most energetic teams in the group stage and quickly became an underdog favourite for many. Attacking midfielder Christoph Baumgartner has been their outstanding player, and they are on the easier side of the draw, so could Austria ‘do a Greece’ at the Euros?

Belgium: won 1; drawn 1; lost 1; goals for 2; goals against 1

Belgium’s performances have just confirmed that they are well past their golden era. The Red Devils aren’t using any width in their play and everything has been extremely slow, pragmatic and frankly boring in trying to go through the middle. Apart from one game, even Kevin De Bruyne’s performances have been a shadow of his club form. Belgium face France in the round of 16, and if they continue to play poorly and ponderously, they will probably go home well before the semi-finals.

Denmark: won 0; drawn 3; lost 0; goals for 2; goals against 2

Denmark survived the battle of the Group C bore to finish as runners-up. A dull 0-0 draw with Serbia in their final group stage match was enough for the Danes to get second over Slovenia due to a better disciplinary record. Denmark can play at pace and look direct, while the strength of Morten Hjulmand and Pierre-Emile Højbjerg at the base of the midfield makes them hard to break down. The Danes lack quality in attack, however, with neither Jonas Wind nor Rasmus Højlund looking the part at this level, and Denmark’s chances of reaching the semis from the top half of the draw look slim.

‘They who will not be named’: won 1; drawn 2; lost 0; goals for 2; goals against 1

No comment – boredom cancelled analysis of the pre-tournament favourites.

France: won 1; drawn 2; lost 0; goals for 2; goals against 1

Les Bleus looked flat throughout their qualification campaign, and star man Kylian Mbappé, who got his first ever European Championship goal, has only had occasional bursts of interesting moments. It has not clicked for France, whose two goals in three games came from an own goal and a penalty kick. However, no one will write them off, as the depth and talent in their squad can’t be matched. They have made life harder for themselves by finishing as runners-up to Austria, as they have landed in the tough top half of the draw along with Portugal, Spain and Germany.

Georgia: won 1; drawn 1; lost 1; goals for 3; goals against 5

The European Championship debutants were pegged for the Group F wooden spot, but a shock 2-0 win for them over Portugal changed that narrative completely. In a brilliant performance of counter-attacking, led by their star player Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, Georgia claimed a huge scalp. They are energetic, tireless and a feel-good story of the tournament, but their prize for qualifying is meeting Spain.

Germany: won 2; drawn 1; lost 0; goals for 8; goals against 2

Germany started the tournament with a bang, firing five goals past Scotland, and looked comfortable in their 2-0 win over Hungary. A late goal by Niclas Füllkrug rescued a point for them in their final group match against Switzerland when their defence did come under pressure. However, as a whole, Germany have been on the front foot a lot, playing with confidence. Jamal Musiala has been a force with his creative attacking speed, while İlkay Gündoğan has been a measure of quality in the middle of the park. Germany’s big problem could be bumping into Spain in the quarter-finals, but they easily look the biggest goal threat so far.

Italy: won 1; drawn 1; lost 1; goals for 3; goals against 3

Italy’s hope of a title defence survived by the skin of its teeth with a 100th-minute equaliser against Croatia in their final group stage match. They clearly don’t have the quality at the back that they had in the last edition, while forward Gianluca Scamacca requires a much better quality of service from the midfield, which just isn’t there. The Azzurri have looked a bit ponderous and non-threatening in front of goal, and a title defence looks a long way off. How they are still in the tournament at this stage is a mystery.

Netherlands: won 1; drawn 1; lost 1; goals for 4; goals against 4

It has been a touch of the good, bad and ugly from the Netherlands. Their defence, led by Virgil van Dijk, has looked terrible, which isn’t something you’d expect. Their frailties at the back will likely trip them up down the line. There was an ugly negativity from them in their group stage match against France, when Les Bleus were there for the taking in a game that ended in a 0-0 draw. However, the Dutch look quick going forward, especially out wide. They will likely be a tricky conundrum for any opponent to solve, but they still have a reasonable shot at the semis in a fairly decent draw.

Portugal: won 2; drawn 0; lost 1; goals for 5; goals against 3

Portugal won Group F with a game to spare, thanks to early victories over the Czech Republic and Turkey. They were given a scare against the Czechs though, who exposed their lack of pace, and were then beaten 2-0 by Georgia in their final match. This is some slightly worrying form ahead of the knockouts. CR7 hasn’t set the tournament alight, hanging around on the shoulders of defenders looking for a run rather than being a direct influence. That being said, no one will want to face the former champions, as they look like a very tight unit.

Romania: won 1; drawn 1; lost 1; goals for 4; goals against 3

Few would have pegged Romania as winners of Group E. However, they sprung a surprise on pre-tournament group favourites Belgium, despite the Romanians getting beaten by the Red Devils along the way. All four teams finished on four points in Group E, with Romania topping it on the head-to-head. They have played well in this tournament, continuously piling balls into the box and looking positive. Midfielder Răzvan Marin has been a workhorse for them, and the surprising group winner slot gives them a fair chance of at least reaching the quarters as they take on the hit-or-miss Dutch.

Slovakia: won 1; drawn 1; lost 1; goals for 3; goals against 3

Slovakia caused the first upset of Euro 2024 by beating Belgium 1-0. They couldn’t build on this with a loss against Ukraine and a draw with Romania, but that added up to enough for them to claim a spot as one of the best third-placed finishers. To their credit, they went hard against Romania in the first half, before smartly managing the game to ensure that they got through. They will be big outsiders to get any further, but here’s hoping that they ‘do an Iceland’ against ‘you know who’ in the round of 16.

Slovenia: won 0; drawn 3; lost 2; goals for 2; goals against 2

Thanks to a dogged and well-earned 0-0 draw against that team in white in their final Group C game, Slovenia did enough to squeeze through to the round of 16 as one of the best third-placed teams. That is a great result for them, and while they counter-attack quite well, unfortunately there is little quality to finish off moves. They meet Portugal in the round of 16, so expect plenty of low-block tactics from them in the hope of snatching something.

Spain: won 3; drawn 0; lost 0; goals for 5; goals against 0

Spain were the pick of the group stage teams and look like a real Euro 2024 title contender. An opening 3-0 win over Croatia set them on the path to a perfect three wins from three. They are full of pressing and can still knock the ball around beautifully with that Spanish flair. The imperious Rodri has run things in midfield, and the assured hands of Unai Simón between the sticks has shut out everything so far. Spain could have a blockbuster quarter-final against Germany, and could possibly meet Portugal or France in the semis. The path ahead is not easy, but Spain look capable of handling it, and they won’t ship many goals.

Switzerland: won 1; drawn 2; lost 0; goals for 5; goals against 3

Switzerland have been their usual well-organised selves and will be delighted with their draw against Germany in their final group match, where they had Die Mannschaft stretched. While the likes of Xherdan Shaqiri and Dan Ndoye have shown flashes of brilliance, it has been more of an industrious teamwork effort by Switzerland than individual brilliance. However, this can still carry them far, and they meet reigning champions Italy in the round of 16, and potentially ‘they who shall not be named’ in the quarter-finals, so there’s very little for the Swiss to fear moving ahead.

Turkey: won 2; drawn 0; lost 1; goals for 5; goals against 5

Turkey have been energetic and very quick on the break. There is definite room for huge defensive improvement, but they will be hoping that their attacking threats get them through. Arda Güler is the name on everyone’s lips. Dubbed the ‘Turkish Messi’, the young Real Madrid forward is lightning fast, confident, and has a tremendous amount of ability with the ball at his feet. Whether Turkey can survive the test against Austria in the round of 16 is another matter.

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