As the Resident goes to press today, Portugal will take to the pitch in Budapest for an early replay of the Euro 2016 final against current World Cup holders France while Group F rivals Germany and Hungary meet in Munich – with any three of the four contenders still able to progress to the next round.
The nail-biting constellation comes about after Ronaldo and company were beaten 4-2 by Germany (both on three points at the time of writing) in the most exciting match of the tournament so far as France (four points) only managed a 1-1 draw with Hungary (one point). Should Germany have come out on top against the Hungarians as expected, a win, draw or nothing worse than a 2-0 defeat can still put Portugal through either in second place or as one of the four best third-placed teams.
Whoever ends up taking the runner-up spot in the ‘group of death’ will take on England at Wembley next Tuesday following the Three Lions’ 1-0 success over the Czech Republic helped them top Group D. That game followed an underwhelming goalless draw with Scotland, who were subsequently eliminated by a 3-1 loss to Croatia in Glasgow.
Wales, who joined England in the next round despite losing 1-0 to Group A winners Italy in their last match, next face surprise package Denmark in Amsterdam on Saturday.
Amongst the pre-tournament favourites, Belgium and Holland, eased into the last 16 with Austria, Switzerland, Sweden, Croatia and the Czech Republic also present, but Spain, in action against Slovakia tonight, were struggling to make the cut after uninspiring draws with fellow Group E contenders Poland and Sweden (playing each other at the same time).
By SKIP BANDELE