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Euro 2016 - Full last 16 draw, and paths to final for England, Wales, France, Spain, Germany, Italy

Euro 2016: Full last 16 draw

25/06/2016 at 16:52Updated 25/06/2016 at 17:52

What are the paths to the final for England, Wales and the top contenders for Euro 2016 glory? And how does the knockout draw look? We take a look.

As the group stage of Euro 2016 comes to and end, we now know who will face whom in the last 16… and beyond.

When we first looked at all these repercussions on Tuesday, we did so assuming that Spain would beat Croatia in their final group match.

They did not. And that has thrown them into the same half of the draw as ALL the pre-tournament favourites.

It makes for thrilling reading, with one half of the draw wide open and the other half looking stronger than any in football tournament history.

The other side of the draw, meanwhile, contains eight teams without a single tournament victory between them.

Euro 2016 last-16 draw

What awaits England… and France, Germany, Italy AND Spain in the 'Bracket of Death'

It's official: the bottom half of the Euro 2016 draw is utterly ridiculous. Spain's surprise defeat in the final group stage match means that they join Italy, Germany, England and France in the same half of the draw. Between them those five nations have won 11 World Cups.

Roy Hodgson's England face Iceland in the last 16. Should they win, they'll face the winners of the match between France and Ireland.

Now, a few days ago the way the groups were shaping up made it seem as if France would face Northern Ireland, a match which would have seemed fairly straightforward for Les Bleus.

Instead, France take on Ireland - the country that they denied a spot at the 2010 World Cup with a deliberate handball that is one of the worst in recent football history - or one of the best, depending upon how you look at it. Talk about your hopes of revenge...

Thierry Henry's handball goal

Thierry Henry's handball goalAFP

Ireland, should they shock France, will also have similarly strong feelings about beating England. If France beat Ireland - as the form book suggests they will - then home advantage will make them favourites to go on and beat England to progress to the semis. England won't see it that way, however: they beat France just a few months ago and will feel that they have nothing to fear.

In short, it's borderline impossible to predict who'll grab the semi-final spot from that particular quarter.

But it's even harder to predict who'll come through to that semi-final from the other quarter: there's a mouthwatering Italy v Spain last 16 clash, followed by an equally exciting Germany v Italy or Spain quarter-final.

Germany will surely make that quarter-final; have looked full of promise yet weighed down by flaws, but not so much that they won't beat likely opponents Slovakia.

Who will face them, though? Spain imploded against Croatia, while Italy lost to Ireland - albeit only with a second-string team on the pitch.

We'd probably see Italy coming through to meet, and then beat, England/France/Ireland in the semi-finals; their defence will not suffer the late lapses that France had to rely upon in the group stage, while their attack has looked very sharp when it comes to taking chances.

What awaits Wales… and Portugal and Belgium

Chris Coleman's Wales might initially have been forgiven for looking at the last-16 match-up and wondering why they bothered topping the group: England's reward of a match against Iceland would appear marginally easier than playing Northern Ireland.

Beyond that, however, Coleman's team will reap the rewards that their magnificent labours in Group B earned them. Should they come through a tough last-16 match then they'll probably face a Belgium side that they took four points from during the qualifying tournament. They will have no fear whatsoever, particularly given that Gareth Bale appears to be in the goalscoring form of his life.

Gareth Bale - Russia v Wales - Euro 2016

Gareth Bale - Russia v Wales - Euro 2016AFP

Rather amazingly, that would put Wales into the semi-finals of the tournament. And their journey probably won't stop there, either, since there is nobody to fear between them and the final.

Croatia have looked comfortably the best of the sides in the top half of the draw: Switzerland and Poland both struggled for goals in the group stage.

In that semi-final, Croatia's quality throughout the pitch will trump that of Wales on paper – and also on grass.

The way the Welsh lifted themselves in that devastating final group game against Russia suggests that they have a few more shocks left in them before the end of the tournament, but making the final would surely be one too many to hope for.

That ought to put Croatia in the final, and if we had a free bet we'd probably stick it on them coming up against Italy.

But this European Championship has already proven impossible to predict, time and again. Whoever comes through, it should be a lot of fun watching it all unfold.

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