Marc Guehi in action against Slovenia - he has been one of England's high points so farMarc Guehi in action against Slovenia - he has been one of England's high points so far (Image: PA)

England View – Marc Iles

NO chickens have been counted but if that draw does not put a smile on the face of Gareth Southgate and his players, nothing will.

Once again, a major tournament has opened up nicely for the England boss, starting with a last 16 tie against Slovakia on Sunday in Gelsenkirchen.

Virtually nobody – with the possible exception of Austria, who do share their side of the draw – has managed to play consistently well over the course of three group games.

Spain may dispute that statement, having stuttered a bit in their third game with a relative team of reserves, but they are not a team Southgate has to worry about until the final.

We are into the realms of knockout football, that means extra time, penalties, and having the nerve to see games through. Say what you like about England’s scrappy performances in the group stages, their defending wasn’t terrible. I can only recall one save of note from Jordan Pickford against Serbia in the opening game and a couple of flutters against Denmark.

Crystal Palace’s Marc Guehi has proven a capable replacement for Harry Maguire, albeit he does not possess the same attacking threat from set pieces which England have relied upon in the past.

John Stones came through the first three games well enough, too. He will be starting to feel match-sharp again, which can only be a good thing.

There is an issue with Kieran Trippier on the left, largely regarding his work going forward rather than his defending. I hate to sound over-confident but if Luke Shaw does have a chance, I’d be much happier seeing him pitched in for an hour against Slovakia than I would have been against Xavi Simons and Denzel Dumfries doubling up for the Netherlands.

Considering the doubts I had over England’s defence coming into the Euros, it hasn’t yet been a major issue. If Southgate can get things going at the other end of the pitch, then maybe the tournament can really get going?

Georgia have been a breath of fresh air at Euro 2024Georgia have been a breath of fresh air at Euro 2024 (Image: PA)

Euro View – Marc Iles

Georgia have been the find of the Euros so far, if only more teams could take a leaf out of their book.

Organised to the letter but playing a high-energy, high-passion style of football that is so good to watch, I think we might soon see the biggest import of Georgian footballers to England since Manchester City started buying mates for Georgi Kinkladze in the nineties at Maine Road.

Most people knew about Khvicha Kvaratskhelia – or Kvara-Dona, as commentators insist on calling him – but loads of other players have caught the eye.

Georges Mikautadze is Euro 2024’s top scorer now, don’t think many folk would have put their 50-pence on that before a ball was kicked, the right-back Otar Kakabadze has been superb and goalkeeper Giorgi Mamardashvili is apparently surplus to requirement at Valenica.

There may be Football Manager nerds and hipsters out there who could tell me they have been watching Luka Lochoshvili since his days at Dinamo Tiblisi but I love the feeling of discovering new players at major tournaments, so give me my moment. Before Google, FIFA and Wikipedia we had whatever information Panini carried alongside the sticker – birthdate, birthplace, club. And invariably, you had never heard of the club because English clubs weren’t playing in Europe.

The best thing about Georgia is that they haven’t played like underdogs, looking to stick in games and nick a goal on the break. They took it to Portugal, Turkey and the Czechs, and they will do the same to Spain.

They have been ragged at times, wasteful in front of goal, they look knackered by 90 minutes, but you cannot take your eyes off them for a second. And anyone who can wind Cristiano Ronaldo up to the point where Portugal have to take him off the pitch is alright by me.

Switzerland's Dan Ndoye celebrates after scoring their side's first goal of the game against GermanySwitzerland's Dan Ndoye celebrates after scoring their side's first goal of the game against Germany (Image: PA)

Euro View – Dan Barnes

Switzerland were agonisingly close to a stunning win against Germany – and they should be full of belief ahead of their clash with Italy on Saturday night.

Murat Yakin’s side were on the cusp of a hard-fought 1-0 victory in Frankfurt after Dan Ndoye’s opener, but the hosts rescued a point in stoppage time through Niclas Fullkrug’s bullet header.

It was a bitter pill to swallow for the Swiss, who would have topped Group A and been handed a more favourable draw if they had managed to hold out a few minutes longer.

But if they can replicate their display against the Germans, there is no reason why Yakin’s men can’t make it to the quarter-final.

Typically at international tournaments, there is a loveable underdog that captures the hearts of the neutrals but eventually comes up against an opponent too strong for them.

Greece famously bucked that trend in 2004, going all the way to the final and then beating Portugal in their own backyard to life the trophy.

Morocco became everyone’s favourite team at the World Cup a couple of years ago, reaching the semi-final before coming up short against a powerful France side. They also put up a good fight in the third place play-off but Croatia had slightly too much quality on the day.

Switzerland have a decent squad on paper. Yann Sommer has a wealth of experience – both at club level and on the international stage – and at 35 is still capable of making key saves at vital moments.

Manuel Akanji made 48 appearances for Manchester City last season so clearly he isn’t too shabby. Premier League fans will also be familiar with Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri – the latter scored a superb strike against Scotland.

Breel Embolo has been impressive in attack - the 27-year-old was once tipped to become a megastar. He has still had a tidy career with the likes of Borussia Monchengladbach but injuries probably stopped him reaching the top level.

In fact, he only featured five times for Monaco at the back end of the season following a lengthy spell out of action with an ACL problem.

Italy, of course, have plenty of talent at their disposal but weren’t entirely convincing during the group stage.

Luciano Spalletti’s side got off to a decent start with a 2-1 victory against Albania but came up short against Spain, who are starting to look like serious contenders after taking maximum points.

They also needed a last-gasp moment of magic from Mattia Zaccagni to secure a point against Croatia, ensuring their place in the last 16.

Italy will obviously be the favourites, but I like what I’ve seen from the Swiss so far and fancy them to cause a shock.