FC Daily: France face Ireland in grudge match, Messi's chance at history
It's Sunday, June 26, and the Euro 2016 round of 16 continues with three tasty matches before Argentina face Chile in the Copa America final. Here's what you need to know.
Matches of the day
- France vs. Rep. of Ireland (3 p.m. CEST/9 a.m. ET on ESPN): Sunday's matches get underway with European Championship hosts France taking on Republic of Ireland. The rivalry between the two nations extends back to that unpunished Thierry Henry handball back in 2009. "We owe France one," Wes Hoolahan told ESPN. Julien Laurens said that Didier Deschamps' men will have to be at their very best if they are to book a place in the quarterfinals.
- Germany vs. Slovakia (6 p.m. CEST/12 p.m. ET on ESPN): It's a tale of two Marios for Germany when they take on Slovakia in Lille. Raphael Honigstein said time is running out for Mario Gotze to claim his starting XI spot, while Gab Marcotti believes Mario Gomez might just be the wild card Jogi Low needs to win the tournament. Whomever Germany play up front, Slovakia are confident they will be ready.
- Hungary vs. Belgium (9 p.m. CEST/3 p.m. ET on ESPN): All eyes will be on Marc Wilmots when Belgium take on Hungary in Euro 2016's late game. With so much talent at his disposal and a kind path to the final, the pressure is on the Belgium coach to deliver a commanding display. Questions remain over the Red Devils' defence, and Hungary boss Bernd Storck has challenged his charges to be clinical in front of goal.
- Argentina vs. Chile (1 a.m. CEST/8 p.m. ET on Fox): Sunday's football feast ends with the tastiest morsel of the day, with Argentina facing Chile in the rematch of the 2015 Copa America final. Can Lionel Messi finally realise his dream and lead the Albiceleste to a piece of silverware? Tim Vickery said the first goal in the game will be pivotal.
Three key points
1. Xherdan Shaqiri scored what is almost certainly the finest goal of the tournament so far to draw Switzerland level in their round of 16 clash with Poland and force extra time, but it was ultimately in vain, as new Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka missed a penalty in the shootout and allowed Poland to progress. There are still concerns for the Poles, though, with strikers Robert Lewandowski and Arkadiusz Milik scoring poorly in Ryan Hubbard's player ratings.
2. It wasn't Euro 2016's finest day. Wales secured what even Chris Coleman described as an "ugly" 1-0 win over Northern Ireland, courtesy of an own goal before Portugal and Croatia took tedium to a new level. Portugal finally won it late in extra time through Ricardo Quaresma, and coach Fernando Santos said afterward: "It'd be nice to play pretty, but that's not always how you win tournaments."
3. Colombia wrapped up third place at the Copa America Centenario with a 1-0 win over United States. Jurgen Klinsmann's men battled hard against Los Cafeteros but in the end could not beat Colombia keeper David Ospina. The South Americans will be pleased with the win but now have much bigger fish to fry in CONMEBOL's World Cup qualifying rounds.
Player of the day
There can be only one. One of the few knocks on Lionel Messi is that he has been unable to lead Argentina to a major title in his career. On Sunday, for the third time in three years, the five-time Ballon d'Or winner has a chance to erase that blemish on his impeccable record. Chile coach Juan Pablo Pizzi said Messi is the "most important player in history" and only his side's "aggressiveness and intensity" will be able to stop the maestro.
Tweet of the day
Stat(s) of the day
1 - Ricardo Quaresma has scored the first goal in extra time at the Euros since Andrey Arshavin in 2008 (v Netherlands). Breakthrough.- OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 25, 2016
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