Today sees the start of the knockout rounds for the 2016 European Championships with quarter-finals being played between Team England Men’s Lacrosse vs Swiss Lacrosse Federation, Finnish National Lacrosse Teams vs Lacrosse Scotland, Wales National Lacrosse Team vs Netherlands and Israel Lacrosse vs Deutschland Lacrosse We take a look at each quarter-final and give you our predictions for what will be a great day of lacrosse for the fans to savour!
England – Switzerland
Switzerland have played a great tournament so far and have been one of the competition’s surprise packages, only dropping points against a very strong Israel side. Having put Sweden to the sword en route to making the quarters, Switzerland will be coming in strong and full of the confidence they will need against the tournament favourites, England.
England started strongly against Germany, battled their way through a challenging battle against Latvia and have breezed their way past Hungary, Czech Republic and Italy, scoring 95 goals and conceding just 19 in the process. England came in to the tournament as favourites and their pool play performances will have done nothing but cement their moniker as the team to beat in this year’s Euros.
Although Switzerland are a strong side capable of putting up exciting performances, they have the toughest challenge possible today and we feel that the strength in depth with this England side will be too much for the challengers. With a team brimming with confidence coming in on a 100% win streak, we’re predicting the English big guns of Watson, Guy and Hunns feeding off service from the midfield maestros of Russell, Hayes, Dexter and Hardy will prove themselves too strong to bow out in the quarters and will book themselves a semi-final berth in style.
Prediction: England 16 – 7 Switzerland | Game has ended. Result was 12-3 England
Finland – Scotland
We think this matchup will have the hallmarks of a Euro classic written all over it.
Finland have roared their way to a perfect 5-0 record in the tournament, bagging themselves 80 goals and conceding just 10 on their way with huge victories against Russia and Slovakia as well as a ruthless demolition of a strong Netherlands side which they won 11-2.
Scotland, on the other hand, started their tournament winning their clash 10-8 against rivals Ireland before a convincing win against Denmark and a solid performance to beat Norway also. In their last pool game, they were on the receiving end of their first loss in a challenging duel against fellow home nation Wales, a result that the Scots will be desperate to bounce back from in the knock-out stages.
Scotland are a disciplined and incredibly well-drilled side and the influence Coach Brian Silcott has had on them is evident for all to see with every man knowing his role and the positive impact he can have on his team. This side are young in age but their togetherness and team morale seems second to none and every player looks to be thriving off playing on the big stage.
Finland are a much bigger, more physical and imposing side whose aggressive defence and slick handling skills are a nod to their impressive and much-envied box lacrosse heritage. They have shown themselves to possess a ruthless streak and will refuse to take their foot off the gas if the game is going their way. Their qualifying group was undoubtedly easier than Scotland’s, but an 11-2 drubbing of a solid Netherlands side shows a glimpse of just what The Fins are capable of.
If The Fins can impose their physicality on The Scots early doors and open up a lead of 3 goals, we could see them seeing the game out with relative ease. However, this Scotland side are not one to roll over and give in and if they are within a goal of their opponents at half-time, we could see the tide swinging one goal each way for the rest of the tie.
We’re hoping for a close one on Field 2 and whilst we are willing Scotland to come through it unscathed, we feel the Finnish strength will be a step too far for them.
Prediction: Finland 14 – 7 Scotland | Game has ended. Result was 9-8 Finland
Wales delighted the crowds yesterday with a 12-8 thriller win over Scotland to rocket themselves up to the top of Group B –referred to as the Group of Death down to the number of quality teams in the pool, and subsequently will be riding high on a wave of confidence and belief. Having survived close-ran games against Norway and Scotland and racking up big wins against Austria and Denmark, this Wales side have shown they can open up the big wins as well as seeing out the gritty challenges when required. A 6-5 win against Norway proves they know how to defend big and when the opportunity arises, they have shown they can also be free-scoring with veteran Wales hero Paul Simpson and the wiley Eoin Dunne racking up double-digits on the scoreboard thus far.
The Netherlands have traditionally produced solid squads with a strong understanding of their team style and tactics, and this year is no different. Racking up big wins against France, Russia & Slovakia as well as seeing off a tough challenge against Poland, The Netherlands only lost once in pool play, in a disappointing showing against the incredibly strong Finland team. The Dutch have shown they can score at will with big gun American imports Taylor Koncen and Jimmy Van De Veerdonk bagging themselves some strong scoring figures in a wicked combination of pure power and pace. Capable of giving it out in a physical sense also, The Dutch will want to impose themselves upon the Welsh early on in this matchup to maintain possession and allow the cannons to fire up top.
We’ve called every Welsh result bar one incorrectly so far this tournament so we hope we are not jinxing the team when we say that we feel they will come out of this one as victors. If they can take the momentum they gained from that Scottish battle into this while keeping the big Dutch shooters quiet, we feel they could have enough strength in depth about them to see this one out.
Prediction: Wales 13 – 10 Netherlands
Israel – Germany
Two of the tournament’s big dogs are battling it out on Field 1 at 14:30 when undefeated Israel take on European heavyweights Germany.
Israel have, as expected, breezed their way through pool play with 71 scored and just 13 conceded in big wins against Spain, Belgium and Sweden and even a shutout against Slovenia. Much has been said about the Israeli squad and each tournament they enter as potential favourites such is their ability to attract top talent in through their Israeli Premier League programme. This year is no different and they have amassed a team with strength across the board from a rock-solid defence to a free-flowing attack with the likes of Caleb Brodie and tournament veterans Matthew Cherry and Noah Miller finding the back of the net with regular ease.
Germany have had a mixed tournament thus far, suffering a disappointing severe loss to England in their first game but redeeming themselves with a fantastic win against a Latvian side that many felt could go all the way to the final. Germany are well-drilled and well-disciplined and they have shared a spread of goals across a number of high scorers rather than relying on a couple of big-hitters, a testament to the united team ethos coach Matt Bagley has instilled in them. When compared with Germany teams of old, this side lacks senior-level experience and the physical impact of previous squads but this youthful side are fit and hard-working and will give 100% for the benefit of the team. On this occasion, we doubt they have enough about them to get past this very tough Israeli side although with the core of this squad undoubtedly featuring in the world games in 2018 which will be a prospect to savour.
Prediction: Israel 15 – 8 Germany | Game has ended. Result was 8-4 Israel
Keep an eye out for score updates on the Twitter feed as the day progresses and check back tomorrow to see how the carnage unfolds!