by Ben Burns
The group stage of Euro 2020 (2021) provided plenty of excitement. Now, the real fun begins. Sixteen teams remain. By Tuesday afternoon, half of those will be gone. That's right. Eight matches, two per day, from Saturday through Tuesday. Each of them is of the "Win Or Go Home" variety. Let's take a look at this weekend's matches.
The first game of the knockout stage features Denmark taking on Wales. The Danes saw their leader collapse on the field of their first match. Naturally, that was scary and emotional for them. Subsequently, they were upset by Finland. That left them with a pretty big hole to dig out of but they managed to do so. No team in Group A could compete with Italy. However, Wales did well to finish second. The Welsh team tied Switzerland with four points but edged out the Swiss in goal differential.
Current odds: Denmark -115. Wales +431. Draw: +233
The Italians returned to the International stage with a bang. In going 3-0, they outscored opposing teams by a 7-0 margin. Austria couldn't contend with the Netherlands but managed wins against North Macedonia and Ukraine. This is unfamiliar territory for the Austrians and they haven't beaten the Italians in any of the last 13 meetings. Italy won 10 of those, the teams drawing three times. Making matters worse for Austria, Italy is unbeaten in 30 straight games, a run of 25 wins and five draws.
Current Odds: Italy -205. Austria: +737. Draw: +328
Always exciting, the Dutch won all three of their matches in the group stage. They come in full of confidence. The Czechs aren't likely to go down easily though. They earned a 2-0 win and a 1-1 draw, while suffering a narrow 1-0 loss to England. Ronaldo has five goals to lead all scorers in the tournament. Five players are tied with three goals. Holland's Georginio Wijnaldum and Patrik Schick from the Czech Republic are among them. Therefore, it's not that surprising that this is projected to be the highest-scoring game of the weekend. The three others mostly have O/U lines of two or 2 1/4. However, this one has an O/U line of 2.5.
Current Odds: Netherlands -145. Czech Rep: +451. Draw +297
This one figures to be the most anticipated match of the weekend. Belgium is the #1 ranked team in the world. Portugal, however, is the defending champion. As mentioned, Ronaldo has already scored five goals. Belgium has a world-class sniper of its own though. Lakaku is one of the five players tied with three goals. Both teams scored seven goals overall. However, while Belgium conceded only one, Portugal gave up six. Of course, that had a lot to do with the fact that the Portugese had to play in the "Group Of Death."
Current Odds: Belgium +151. Portugal +222. Draw +220.