Euro 2024 Power Rankings: Cristiano Ronaldo drags Portugal all the way down to the bottom

the eight teams left in Germany ahead of a weekend of heavyweight quarter-final clashes

And then there were eight. After a round of 16 featuring games of wildly contrasting quality, we’re now looking forward to – or perhaps more accurately, hoping for – a weekend of cracking quarter-finals.

Certainly, on paper, some of match-ups are mouth-watering. Germany and Spain’s showdown in Stuttgart has the potential to be a classic, but France against Portugal in Hamburg could be just as compelling, even if both sides have yet to find their best form.

On the other (weaker) side of the draw, surprise package Switzerland will be quietly confident of upsetting an England team that is lucky to still be in contention, while the only thing we know we’re definitely going to get when Netherlands meet Turkey in Berlin is a brilliant atmosphere.

So, as it stands, which teams are looking like potential champions – and who could be heading home this weekend? WE ranks the eight teams left at Euro 2024 below..

8Portugal ⬇️
The Cristiano Ronaldo Show rolls on – but only just. After missing a penalty – and umpteen other chances – during Monday’s 0-0 draw with Slovenia, the Seleccao skipper was indebted to goalkeeper Diogo Costa for extending his international career with his history-making heroics in the penalty shootout.

Obviously, a misfiring and overly emotional Ronaldo should be dropped for the quarter-final against France. He’s taken more shots than any other player in Germany (20) and yet hasn’t a single goal to his famous name. A far more effective forward like Diogo Jota or Goncalo Ramos deserves a chance to lead the line. They won’t get it, of course.

Manager Roberto Martinez isn’t brave enough to make such a call, meaning Portugal will be once again relying on Ronaldo to roll back the years – or someone like Costa to once again to make up for the captain’s now blatant shortcomings. Portugal really do run the risk of allowing Ronaldo to drag them down with him.

7France ⬆️
France are giving off some serious Greece 2004 vibes in Germany: painfully limited in attack but very strong defensively. The thing is, though, Greece did what they had to do. They weren’t blessed with a wonderful array of superstars; so they embraced a horribly negative but extremely effective brand of football to win games.

France have no such excuse. The performances have been pitiful given the quality Didier Deschamps has available to him. Granted, they were the better side against an abysmal Belgium, but they only won the game because of a Jan Vertonghen deflection.

The fact of the matter is that not a single French player has yet scored from open play in Germany. If they don’t improve, if they don’t figure out how to get Kylian Mbappe and the entire forward line firing, their luck will eventually run out, if not against Portugal, then against either a vastly superior Spain or Germany in the semis.

6Turkey ⬆️
To be brutally honest, Turkey didn’t remotely deserve to beat Austria and it’s a serious shame for the tournament that Ralf Rangnick’s tremendously exciting side are out. Credit where it’s due, though, Vincenzo Montella’s men took advantage of the set-piece chances that came their way and defended for their lives for the remainder of the game.

They’ll need to be just as clinical and resilient against the Netherlands in the quarter-finals, but victory is certainly not beyond them. In Arda Guler and Kenan Yildiz, they’ve a couple of potential match-winners, while Hakan Calhanoglou will be back from suspension in Berlin, where Turkey will once again benefit from an incredible amount of ‘home’ support.

5Germany ⬇️
There’s an undeniable sense of inevitability around Germany right now. Not only have they played very well in patches, with Jamal Musiala particularly effective, fortune is really starting to favour the hosts.

Julian Nagelsmann’s men nicked a draw in their final group game thanks to super-sub Niclas Fullkrug before eliminating Denmark in the last 16 thanks to the most marginal offside call you’re ever likely to see, and a horribly harsh handball decision.

Obviously, Germany are going to have to take their game to a whole other level against Spain – but in Antonio Rudiger, Ilkay Gundogan and Toni Kroos, they have experienced, world-class players who know exactly what is required to win matches of this enormity. Home advantage should also help their cause, and if Lady Luck smiles on them again, Germany have every chance of going all the way.

4England ⬇️
Let’s face it: England should already be out of Euro 2024. After three horrendous performances in the group stage, they stunk out the place again in the last 16 but managed to sneak through thanks to a 95th-minute ‘worldie’ from Jude Bellingham with what was their first shot on target in the match.

But this is the thing about England: they’ve got enough top talents in their team to continue scraping past relatively weak opposition. No matter how conservatively Gareth Southgate sets his side up, and no matter how poorly they perform, there’s always a chance that a moment of magic from Bellingham, Harry Kane, Phil Foden or Bukayo Saka will bail them out of jail.

So, while the Three Lions don’t deserve to get anywhere near the final, it would actually be a surprise if they don’t end up in Berlin. That is the confusing contradiction at the heart of England’s campaign.

3Switzerland ⬆️
Switzerland dumped reigning champions Italy out of Euro 2024 last weekend, and yet it didn’t really register as a shock result. It had been coming. The Swiss had impressed during the group stage, coming within seconds of topping Germany’s group, while Italy had only scraped into the last 16 courtesy of a last-gasp equaliser against Croatia. There was, then, always the feeling that Murat Yakin’s well-drilled and very dangerous side would have far too much for the weakest Azzurri we’ve seen in years.

The question now, of course, is whether Switzerland can now knock out out another underwhelming heavyweight in England. They don’t have anything like the same stellar squad as the Three Lions but Manuel Akanji has been excellent at the back, Granit Xhaka and Remo Freuler have arguably been the best central midfield pairing in the entire competition, while Dan Ndoye and Ruben Vargas carry a serious attacking threat.

All things considered, Switzerland have a gloriously unexpected chance to make the semi-finals of a Euros for the first time ever.

2Netherlands ⬆️
Maybe the Netherlands are peaking at the right time? The group stage was a real mixed bag for the Dutch, who showed impressive fighting spirit to defeat Poland, and good defensive discipline in drawing with France, only to capitulate against Austria. Were it not for the ridiculous format, which allows four third-placed teams to progress, Ronald Koeman would probably be already out of a job.

However, the draw was very kind to the Netherlands and they took full advantage by routing Romania to reach the last eight. Turkey will definitely be tough to beat, but the Dutch are looking increasingly dangerous, with Cody Gakpo in fine form on the left flank. Koeman & Co. could easily end up in the semis!

 

1Spain ↔
Spain went top of our rankings after their opening-round rout of Croatia and they’ve remained there ever since. Why? Because they’re the best team in this tournament – and by some distance.

Of course, that’s no guarantee of ultimate glory, such is the beauty of knockout football, and La Roja have been a little profligate at times – most notably in the 1-0 drubbing of Italy. However, at no point during the last-16 win over Georgia did you feel that they wouldn’t turn the game around after gifting their opponents an early lead. Alvaro Morata may be a sub-standard striker, but the fantastic attacking talents around him create so many chances that Spain are always likely to score eventually.

Germany in Stuttgart represents their toughest test to date. Beating the hosts in their own backyard will be far from easy – but if Spain see off the hosts, they’ll rightly believe that they’re on a whole other level to every other side left in his competition.

 

 

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