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Euro 2016: A group stage wrap

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Euro 2016: A group stage wrap

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The group stage came to a close on Wednesday night which means we’re now at the last 16 phase which starts on Saturday.

Here you have our top of the pops from the first 13 days of competition across France.

Bale-out

Gareth Bale has been in fine fettle during the group stage and inspired Wales to the top of their group in their first appearance at the Euros and their first appearance at a major competition since the 1958 World Cup.

The Real Madrid star has been the Welsh driving force and scored three goals.

The tournament debutants have impressed with their battling displays.

Just to be at the tournament was worth celebrating for the Welsh – now they can set their sights even higher, and quite rightly so.

Debutants prove stubborn opposition

Iceland are the smallest footballing nation in the tournament, but it certainly hasn’t shown.

After holding both Portugal and Hungary in their opening two fixtures they stunned 10th ranked Austria 2-1 in their final match to make it – against all the odds – into the knockout phase.

This is Slovakia’s first European Championship and they extended their stay in France for at least another match – although that’s against World Champions Germany in the last 16.

They held England to a stubborn draw to scrape through in third place.

Despite two defeats and one victory, three points were enough to see Northern Ireland through to the last 16.

A special mention must go to Michael McGovern, whose heroics in goal helped prevent Germany running riot in their final game which amazingly they lost only 1-0.

The Disappointments

Russia disappointed on and off the pitch.

A humiliating group stage exit was preceded by a suspended ban from the competition for fan violence with English supporters at the Stade Velodrome, in Marseille. Not Russia’s finest sporting moment.

Ukraine were a huge disappointment in France, where their stay was very short.

They were the first team to be eliminated from the group stage and they failed to score a single goal or point.

A truly woeful campaign from Mykhaylo Fomenko and his men.

Portugal and star player Cristiano Ronaldo failed to fire before their final group match. Ronaldo appeared unable to hit a barn door from three yards out until scoring twice against Hungary in a thrilling 3-3 draw.

Portugal didn’t win a game but crept into the last 16 nonetheless.

Sweden and Zlatan Ibrahimovic were poor in France. They didn’t score a single goal. Sweden beat Republic of Ireland 1-0 but that was courtesy of an own goal.

Zlatan has now retired from international duty and Sweden have been left licking their painful early-exit wounds.

Switzerland were hoping to shred their opponents but they only seemed to shred their shirts in their draw with France on Sunday.

Shirts repeatedly tore in the heat of the action.

Afterwards Xherdan Shaqiri joked ‘‘I hope the Puma doesn’t make condoms,’‘ fair point.

We might be wrong

With the Group stage battles now over, it’s time to get even more serious. On Saturday it’s do or die for six teams in the last 16. We’ve predicted the results of these three matches but if you disagree, send us your predictions using #TheCornerScores.

Round of 16

Switzerland 2-1 Poland
Wales 3-0 Northern Ireland
Croatia 3-1 Portugal

Every story can be told in many ways: see the perspectives from Euronews journalists in our other language teams.

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