The UEFA European Championship round of 16 matches will kick off on Saturday evening. The last two matches of the group stages produced eight goals in two, two-all games between Portugal and France, as well as Germany and Hungary. Now, it’s do or die for the remaining 16 nations that have advanced to the knock-out round.
Despite fewer rest days than Switzerland ahead for their quarter-final match on Monday, defender Jules Kounde is adamant that the French team will not look for excuses.
Switzerland defeated Turkey 3-1 in Baku on Sunday and finished third in Group A, behind Italy and Wales.
The French-Swiss quarter-final match will be played in the Bucharest National Arena in Romania.
France finished first in Group F after defeating Germany 1-0 and playing to a one-all draw against Hungary and 2-ALL against Portugal.
“It’s a fact. We have fewer rest days, so yes we can consider it as a disadvantage. But, it’s the way the calendar is. We won’t look for excuses. We will rest well because we need it. It was a difficult game against Portugal. Intense, under a very hot weather. So we will need these five days. And I have no doubt that despite these three – few days, the team will be very competitive and very motivated to reach the quarter-finals,” says Defender, Jules Kounde.
The outgoing Germany coach, Joachim Loew, says he was confident his side would power their way back into the match against Hungary after twice going behind in a dramatic European Championship group decider in Munich on Wednesday. Loew said he watched with growing confidence as Germany threw everything at their opponents in the closing stages and equalised six minutes from time to salvage a two-all draw. That secured second place in Group F to set up a June 29 round of 16 match against England at Wembley.
Loew admits that England will be a different prospect in the knock-out stage compared to Hungary.
“In England, it will be a completely different game because the English certainly have to play forward at home. It’s an open game, more open than it was just now and therefore, logically – we have to correct a few things. We have to be absolutely on our guard because crosses into the box standard situations, there’s no more room for error. We really have to do things better now. Absolutely. But it will be a different game, which certainly suits us,” explains Loew.
Loew, who steps down as German coach after the tournament, is looking for a glorious end to an illustrious career that includes winning the 2014 World Cup.
In the first two matches of the knock-out round on Saturday, Wales will take on Denmark, while Italy will play Austria. And on Sunday, the Netherlands will be at the Puskás Arena in Budapest where they will face the Czech Republic at 6pm South African time. That match will be followed by what promises to be a mouth watering affair between Belgium and Portugal in Seville.