With 16 teams ready for the beginning of the knockout stages of Euro 2016, this is the first part as we take a look at the pairings and look at the teams and predict their chances of progressing to the quarterfinals of the competition.
Croatia v Portugal | The collective versus the individual
Set at the Stade Bollaert-Delelis in Lens, this fixture, just like several others in this round is highly unpredictable. The Croats had a very impressive group stage run, finishing ahead of defending champions Spain in group D, and even coming from behind to beat the Spaniards in their final group game to stamp their superiority in the group.
It was however a different story entirely for Portugal, who could only finish as one of the best third-placed teams in a seemingly soft group that had Hungary, Iceland and Austria. They finished with only three points from the group, and had to rely on the heroics of Cristiano Ronaldo to pull out a 3-3 result against Hungary in their final group game.
But that being said, this stage is set for the team that would make the least mistakes and takes its chances when presented. So the Saturday clash is expected to be a completely different ball game.
While Portugal appear to have more renowned individual players like Ronaldo, Nani, Ricardo Quaresma, Pepe and new kid on the block Renato Sanchis, the Croats have succeeded in showing that sometimes all these don’t count.
That is not to say they lack brilliant individual players of their own, as Luka Modric, Ivan Perisic and Mario Mandzukic has shown thus far, but they appear to have a better team ethic than the Portuguese.
It will be a tough game no doubt and Portugal have shown over the last few tournaments that they can progress very far in a competition despite a slow start in the group stages and that is one thing the Croatians will be wary of.
It is a tough call here but judging by how the teams fare in the group stages, it is easy to tip Croatia to progress but would you bet against Ronaldo and Portugal?
Prediction: Croatia 2-1 Portugal