The group stage of the EUROs is finally over as teams start to prepare for the next stage and correct issues that have plagued them.

Two teams from each group are guaranteed a spot in the round of 16 and the four best performing teams that finished in third place amongst the groups will also get a place.

The final matchday for the group stage brought a lot of great games as the stakes could not be higher for most teams with qualification on the line. In each group, there were at least two teams that still needed to qualify, meaning that most teams fielded their strongest teams rather than resting players for the next round. Soccer fans would have been looking forward to this day for week as the pressure and excitement could be felt across all teams. 

Group A

Both teams came into this game with a guaranteed place in the knockout stages, so it would be of little importance to the group. Italy looked to rotate their squad as they started Belotti and Chiesa amongst others to rest their top players for the next round. Wales didn’t rotate as much as they kept Ramsey and Bale in the starting lineup.

Italy would continue their fine form that they had been carrying since the start of the EUROs as they came out of the gates firing. Federico Chiesa was the best player of the first half as all the best moments of Italy’s attacks came from him as he was able to take apart the Welsh defense. Italy would eventually gain the lead off a shot from a set piece by Matteo Pessina.

The second half would be more of the same as Italy came close to a second goal with a few chances but failed to find that second goal. Ethan Ampadu would be sent off within the first ten minutes of the second half for a late stomp on Federico Bernardeschi. Italy would win the game 1-0 marking their 30th win in a row cementing them as a contender for the tournament.

While neither team could progress automatically, they still had a chance to potentially progress by finishing in third place but will have to wait until the final games to know their status. Switzerland had the better chance as they came into this game with one point and played a strong lineup. For Turkey, they desperately needed a win but would still be unlikely to progress in third place.

Both teams came out firing as they felt the urgency from the opening whistle as they both chased a potential spot in the next round. Switzerland would get the lead within six minutes through a great shot by Haris Seferović who would drag a low shot past the Turkish keeper. Xherdan Shaqiri, who always seems to score at tournaments, would add a second 20 minutes later giving Switzerland the 2-0 lead going into the half.

The start of the second half was similar to that of the first half as both teams did not take their feet off the gas. Turkey would claw one back at the 62nd mark with İrfan Kahveci curling one in from outside the 18 yard box. Shaqiri would score his second of the game giving Switzerland the 3-1 win as they know await their fate.

Group B

Both teams had a chance to advance but also had to see the result between Finland and Belgium as all teams but Belgium were still waiting to qualify. Russia has had a difficult team scoring at the tournament so far with no one being outstanding for the side. Denmark have slowly turned the corner and looked impressive against Belgium on the previous matchday.

The first half would start pretty well for the Danish as they were able to control the game despite Russian pressure. Denmark would finally get their goal from Mikkel Damsgaard who would curl it past the keeper to make the Danish stadium erupt. While they were leading, Denmark would not have qualified yet due to Finland tying Belgium at the half.

Denmark would come out firing and within 15 minutes, they would get their second goal through Yussuf Poulsen. Russia would get a penalty with Artem Dzyuba converting it with Finland still tied to Belgium with neither of these two teams making it out. Andreas Christensen would lift the roof of the stadium with an incredible goal from out of the stadium to send Denmark to the next stage.

Belgium and Finland would end the group play with Belgium already qualified and Finland feeling pretty good about their chances. Belgium looks to be the second best team in the tournament as their best player, Kevin De Bruyne, is close to being fully fit. While Finland has been a bit of a surprise, as they were sitting second in their group despite being tipped to finish last. 

The first half would open with Belgium not willing to accept a draw as they kept their foot on the gas pinning Finland back. Through De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku, Belgium would get close to getting their deserved lead. The first half would end in a draw with Finland the happier of the two teams, as they were close to confirming their place in the next round.

Belgium would continue their onslaught with a potential penalty call occurring within the opening minute of the second half. In the 74th minute, Belgium would finally get their lead after a header from Thomas Vermaelen would richot off the post and into the net after hitting Finnish keeper Lukáš Hradecký. Lukaku would add in a second and Belgium would win 2-0 as Finland crashed out of the tournament. 

Group C

Both teams went into the match in pretty good shape in terms of qualifying for the next round so this game was more important to figure out who would finish second. Ukraine has had an up and down tournament as their attack has shown up but their defense and goalkeeper bringing them down. While Austria has looked to be the favorites to finish second as they have played to their strengths.

Austria  would control much of the opening quarter of the first half as they seemed more willing to get on the attack. This would pay off resulting in Christoph Baumgartner tapping in a corner from David Alaba in the 21st minute giving Austria the lead. For the rest of the first half, both sides would trade shots as Mykola Shaparenko would get close for Ukraine.

Ukraine would open up the second half with more urgency as Austria was content to sit back and absorb the pressure, trusting their defense to carry them through. For the majority of the second half, Ukraine would be the attacker and get a few good shots but Austrian keeper Daniel Bachmann would keep them out. Austria would win the game 1-0 and both teams would advance to the knockouts.

This game was sadly of little importance as North Macedonia was already eliminated and the Netherlands had already won the group. Although they had some good moments, Goran Pandev’s goal against Austria, North Macedonia were always seen as the one team that would fail to make the knockouts. The Dutch were able to shake off some of the concerns that critics had of them to cement themselves amongst the favorites for the tournament.

North Macedonia would open the game going after the Dutch with one goal called back for offsides and another shot hitting the post. Seemingly against the run of play, Memphis Depay would finish a great run by Donyell Malen to give the Dutch the lead. For the rest of the first half, the Dutch would control the game getting close to a second goal.

The second half would open like the first half ended with the Dutch firmly in control, yielding in a goal for Georginio Wijnaldum off a Depay assist. The Dutch would get one more goal again through Wijnaldum to give the Dutch a 3-0 win. North Macedonia finished last in the group with the Netherlands winning the group.

Group D

A game of high importance as Croatia took on Scotland to see who would get the last qualification spot in group D. Croatia were still struggling to find that clinical touch in the final third as they lost and drew the past two games respectively. Scotland also came off a loss and a draw but were in high hopes as the game was being played in Scotland in front of their home fans.

Scotland would open the game up with a great chance from Che Adams who would barely miss on connecting with a cross. Croatia would quickly hit back with Nikola Vlašić volleying in the lead off a header from Ivan Perišić. Towards the end of the first half, Scotland would get their equalizer from Callum McGregor who would volley in a missed clearance from Croatia.

Croatia came out of the half desperate for a winner, knowing that their future in the tournament was on the line. Luka Modrić would give Croatia the lead through a wonder goal, curving the ball past the keeper with the outside of his foot. Croatia would win the game 3-1, with Perišić adding a third, and would qualify for the knockout stages.

This game would help decide the group winner with both teams on four points and the winner of the game would be on the easier of the two sides of the knockout stages. The Czech Republic looked to continue their great play at this tournament. While England were still looking for that statement win that would cement themselves amongst the top two or three favorites. 

Raheem Sterling almost got England going in the second moment of the game with a curler that would bounce off the post. Sterling would finally get his goal in the twelfth minute as he headed in a Jack Grealish cross. The Czech Republic would get a few more chances towards the end of the first half but the game would remain 1-0 for England.

The Czech Republic would start the second half with urgency but lacked the clinical touch needed to equalize. England would get a goal through Jordan Henderson but was called back due to him being offsides. The game would ultimately end 1-0 for England as both them and the Czech Republic qualified for the round of sixteen.

Group E

No team from this group had yet qualified, making this game of dire importance to both teams as they both had a chance for qualification. Sweden has grown into the tournament going from strength to strength all built on a great defense. Meanwhile, Poland has struggled as the lack of help around Robert Lewandowski up top has stranded one of the greatest goalscorers of all time.

Within two minutes of the opening whistle, Sweden would get the opener with Emil Forsberg driving a low shot past the Polish keeper after a great move to get past the Polish defense. Poland would get a great chance more than ten minutes later  with Lewandowski’s shots hitting the post with an empty net. For the rest of the first half, Poland would continue their pressure as Lewandowski seemed determined to score.

Despite an early onslaught of Polish attacks, Sweden would get their second goal as Forsberg curled his finish past the keeper. Poland would strike back twice to level the game with both goals coming from Robert Lewandowski to keep their hopes of qualification. However, breaking the hearts of Polish fans  everywhere, Viktor Claesson would score the winner after some brilliant hold up play by Dejan Kulusevski to push Sweden to the next stage.

Both teams were very much alive in terms of qualifying for the round of sixteen and with a win either team had a chance of finishing second. Slovakia surprised many with their win over Poland but started to slow down against Sweden in the previous game. While Spain has been far from convincing as they have struggled to score and had tied both their previous group stage games.

Spain looked to break that goal scoring drought as they took advantage of Slovakia sitting back and were able to control the tone of the first half. Within ten minutes, Spain would get a penalty that Álvaro Morata would take but have saved by the Slovakian keeper. Spain would finally get their opener after a shot would take a weird bounce off the post forcing an own goal.

The second half opened was more of the same as Spain would be leading 2-0 but they didn’t seem to want to stop. Within ten minutes, Spain would have another goal as Pablo Sarabia would finish up a tidy spell of possession. They would add two more goals as the game would end 5-0 for Spain confirming their place in the next round.  

Group F

Easily one of the most anticipated matches of the EUROs, this rematch of the 2016 final would have implications on which of the teams would reach the round of sixteen. The French team that would take on Portugal is unrecognizable to the one that lost to Portugal with a bevy of new talent and a world cup title under their belt. Portugal features a lot of the heroes of 2016 and are led by their icon, Cristiano Ronaldo, and are looking to pull one over on the French team.

The first half started the way most expected with the two sides going all out on the attack throwing defensive caution to the side. Portugal would get a penalty after a clumsy challenge by Hugo Lloris and Ronaldo would step up to give Portugal the lead. This would wake France up and they would soon get their own penalty after Mbappe would be taken down in the box and this time Karim Benzema, Ronaldo’s longtime teammate, would equalize the game for France.

Right out the gate France was determined to get the lead and would get it through Karim Benzema who would finish off a great pass by Paul Pogba. Portugal would find their way back into the game and would get another penalty after a handball by a French defender, Ronaldo would step up again and give Portugal the tie. The game would end 2-2 with France winning the group and Portugal finishing second.

Both teams entered the game with a chance of qualifying for the next round, although Germany had the better odds with the current format of the tournament. Germany is looking totally different to that team that France played in the opening match as they have finally hit their form. Hungary, despite being favorites to finish last, has stood well against both Portugal and France.

Hungary could not have asked for a better start, as captain Ádám Szalai would power a header outside the reach of Manuel Neuer to give Hungary the surprise lead.  Germany would be sparked back into life as they would get close to scoring the equalizer with shot after shot hitting the post or being saved. Going into halftime, Hungary was at the moment progressing to the next round with Germany seemingly heading back home.

Germany would open the second half with the urgency that eluded them in the opening of the first with Kai Havertz scoring the tying goal after a missed shot by Mats Hummels. Right after that goal, Hungary would lead again this time through András Schäfer who would finish a great give and go with Szalai. Germany weren’t dead yet with Leon Goretzka coming off the bench to volley home the winner after a deflection in the box, pushing Germany to the round of sixteen and eliminating Hungary. 

Feature image: Darko Bandic/Reuters

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