Three traditional European powers and one hoping to deepen its first true impact in the continent’s tournament take to the pitch and close out Euro 2016’s Round of 16 Monday in France.
Italy and Spain will first rematch 2012’s final at Stade de France in Saint-Denis outside Paris, while England and shock first-time participant Iceland duel at Allianz Riviera down south in Nice.
Other than the obvious stakes and pride for country, all four nations understand they are in the midst, and just beginning the first stages, of a very difficult side of the tournament bracket.
Italy and Spain enter the match with full knowledge that Germany awaits them in the quarterfinals. Joachim Low’s side quickly dispatched Slovakia 3-0 on Sunday. Meanwhile, England or Iceland will face host nation and prohibitive favorite France in the quarters next weekend.
Each netting a 2-1 mark and six points in the group stages, Spain and Italy rounded into form as the tournament unfolded, but Antonio Conte’s side will miss a key contributor.
Midfielder Antonio Candreva is nursing a hamstring injury after recording an assist and shots on goal in two starts during the tournament, which could lead Conte to rely on his more experienced and older midfielders like Thiago Motta and Marco Parolo.
The Spanish and manager Vicente del Bosque, in pursuit of a third consecutive Euro title, closed out the group stage with a 2-1 loss to Croatia but are unscathed before facing the Italians and have come to rely on the incredible rise of 23-year-old forward Alvaro Morata.
The Juventus star is set to don the 13th cap of his career and leads Spain in scoring with three goals thus far, with forward Nolito and defender Gerard Pique responsible for Spain’s two other goals in the group stage.
Later in the day, tournament darling Iceland will try to extend its magical run against an England side that will try to shed its underachiever label. The Icelanders were undefeated in Group F, earning 1-1 draws with Portugal and Hungary before blasting Austria 2-1 for the right to participant it its first-ever knockout stage.
Iceland’s defense, headlined by goalkeeper Hannes Halldorsson and his 19 saves in three starts, has been one of the best in the entire tournament but does face a tough test against the English.
The Three Lions opened their campaign with a poor 1-1 finish against Russia and followed with a strong 2-1 result against rival Wales, only to draw nil-nil with Slovakia to close out Group B play.
Manager Roy Hodgson, who's received only a goal apiece from Daniel Sturridge, Jamie Vardy and Eric Dier, will need more pressure at the top of the attack from goalless Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney.
Spain vs. Italy
Prediction: Spain 2-1 Italy
Start Time: 12 p.m. ET
TV Channel: ESPN2 (USA) RSI La 2, Sky Go Italia, Sky Sport 1 HD Italia, Sky Supercalcio HD (Italy); MiTele En Vivo, TeleCinco Espana (Spain)
Live Stream: ESPN3
England vs. Iceland
Prediction: England 2-1 Iceland
Start Time: 3 p.m. ET
TV Channel: ESPN2 (USA) The ITV Hub, ITV 1 UK (England); SiminnSport, SkjarSport (Iceland)
Live Stream: ESPN3