We’ve had 36 of 51 games and we’re not much closer to an idea on who will lift the Euro 2016 title in Paris next month.
It’s been a competition low on goals but high on talking points – with a little MCFC-twist, here’s what we’ve learned from what we’ve seen so far.
KDB firing on all cylinders
Belgium made it through to the Last 16 with relative comfort in the end despite their defeat to Italy in their opening game.
Central to their revival was the form of Kevin De Bruyne who was statistically the group stage’s most creative player.
The City playmaker created 17 opportunities for his teammates to score over the course of Belgium’s three games and turned in a Man of the Match-winning performance against Sweden to see the Red Devils through.
Now Marc Wilmots’ men are one of the favourites to reach the final after their second placed finish put them in the, on paper, easier half of the draw.
Belgium will avoid England, France, Germany, Italy and Spain until the final at least, with Croatia potentially their biggest obstacle between now and then.
First though, they will have to overcome Hungary on Sunday night which will be no easy task after they topped a group containing Portugal, Iceland and Austria.
Silva back to his best…
David Silva makes it a City no.1 and no.3 in the list of Euro 2016’s most creative players, with 13 chances made for the holders.
The City man has been arguably Spain’s most decisive man in their three group matches and he produced the pass of the tournament so far against Croatia last time out.
Injuries took their toll on the second half of David’s season at club level but, from what we’ve seen so far in France, he’s back to his mesmeric best, flitting between the lines and making the incisive passes we’ve come to expect from the man we call “Merlin”.
Italy are up next for the back-to-back winners in Paris on Monday in what must surely be considered the tie of the round.
Three Lions to roar?
Where you come down on England’s performances at Euro 2016 so far probably depends on whether you’re one of life’s optimists.
On one hand, England have enjoyed complete domination of all three of their group games, they showed great character to come back from a goal down to beat Wales and their so-called weakness going into the tournament, defending, has not been exposed.
If you’re in possession of a more cynical mind, the two draws against Russia and Slovakia provide causes for concern as the Three Lions failed to break down obdurate opposition and, as a result, Roy Hodgson’s men are in the more difficult half of the draw with France, Germany, Spain.
Joe Hart and Raheem Sterling’s side will have a chance to answer their critics on Monday night when they take on an Iceland side which will be likely to sit deep, soak up pressure and hope to hit on the counter.
If they make it through this one, they’ll face France unless Ireland pull off a shock, meaning their defensive stability could be in for a real test but one thing at a time...
The Thierry Henry derby…
Speaking of France, Bacary Sagna has been an ever-present for the host nation on their run to the Last 16 – Thierry Henry hasn’t, but you’ll probably be hearing his name a lot more than Bacary’s in the coming days…
Didier Deschamps’ were the pre-tournament favourites but after they left it late against Romania and Albania there’s a sense that they haven’t quite hit their stride just yet.
Standing in France’s way of a potential quarter final meeting with England is Ireland – a team who, it’s fair to say, they have a history with.
There’s a lengthy Wikipedia entry dedicated to the incident which saw France qualify for the 2010 World Cup at Ireland’s expense, thanks, in part, to an unpunished handball by Thierry Henry, which led to the crucial goal.
Bacary was on the pitch at the Stade de France on that fateful day in 2009 and will be hoping to help avoid an Irish revenge mission from occurring in Lyon on Sunday.
It’s been a tournament for the lesser-fancied nations so far in France, with the new competition format allowing newcomers not only to appear but to shine.
The likes of Northern Ireland, Iceland and Wales, to name but three, were already delighted just to make the tournament this summer but they have all reached the knockout stages against the odds.
Whether or not adding eight nations to the Euros has been conducive to the most entertaining football is a matter for debate but there’s no question it has created some great stories and a feel-good factor around the tournament which has been palpable even for those watching on their TVs thousands of miles away.
No one team has really stood out above the rest in the first round of games and, with both sides of the draw looking completely unpredictable for very different reason, there’s a real sense that we’re no closer to knowing who will lift the trophy in Paris on 10 July.
With 15 games and 16 teams left, anything could happen.