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Former Indian Captain Bhutia Predicts Germany and Spain as Leading Contenders for Euros 2024 Knockout Stages

As we approach the thrilling knockout stages of the Euros 2024, all eyes are on the top-performing teams. With anticipation mounting for Saturday’s Round of 16 matches, former Indian captain Bhaichung Bhutia has weighed in on the favorites. In an exclusive interview with the IANS, Bhutia singled out Germany and Spain as the teams to watch, sparking discussions among football enthusiasts about whether this year might spell the end of their trophy droughts.

Reflecting on the prowess of these footballing giants, Bhutia expressed his admiration for Germany’s legacy in major tournaments. “I think Germany’s got a history of, it’s like Real Madrid in the Champions League. It’s the same with Germany, Spain, and Italy, they always do well in all these knockout matches. Germany definitely is one of the favorites, and they’ve started very well. They look like a very strong, balanced side and are one of the few teams that have really played very well so far,” Bhutia remarked.

The performance of Kai Havertz has been a focal point for many analysts. Despite securing a goal and an assist in the opening game, some fans are calling for the inclusion of Niclas Fullkrug. The Dortmund forward managed to score a critical late equalizer against Switzerland, ensuring Germany topped Group A. Addressing this dynamic, Bhutia said, “I think when the team is doing well, you don’t want to make those changes upfront. Yes, we could have seen much more from Kai Havertz, especially getting a few more goals for them, but it hasn’t happened. I think it’s linking the team well. The substitutes have come in and really delivered. I don’t think they should make many changes in terms of personnel because it’s working well for them. It’s just that he needs one or two goals to get him going.”

Parallel to Germany’s impressive form, Spain has also shown glimpses of their past brilliance.

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. Commencing the tournament with a resounding 3-0 victory over Croatia, Spain emerged as the only team to win all their games in the Group Stage. This feat has set the stage for their upcoming clash against Georgia in the Round of 16. The prospect of a quarterfinal showdown against hosts Germany has pundits and fans buzzing.

Spain’s blend of youth and experience has been lauded by Bhutia, who highlighted the team’s captain, Alvaro Morata, as a key figure. “I think there has been a great combination of youth and experience on their side. The captain (Alvaro Morata) has been fantastic. He’s getting back to his form, and he’s got two young players (Yamal and Williams) playing alongside him. I think Spain has been the best team so far but again, with the team and players, young players like that, when it gets going, when you’re leading, when you score goals and when you’re winning, it’s a great thing,” Bhutia stated.

However, Bhutia also posed an intriguing question regarding Spain’s resilience under pressure. “How do you react when you’re a goal down and when you are in that kind of pressure situation? That is the time we’ll have to see if they’re a goal down, what kind of reaction these younger players can bring in. Sometimes it’s quite difficult for younger players; the mindset is a bit difficult when you concede,” he concluded.

These insights from Bhutia add a rich layer to the ongoing narrative of the Euros 2024. The tournament has witnessed stellar performances from numerous teams, but the prospects of Germany and Spain advancing further evoke particular excitement. With years of footballing heritage and a current squad brimming with talent, could this be the year we see one of these giants lift the trophy? As the knockout stages unfold, the world will be eagerly watching, awaiting the unfolding drama on the grand European stage.

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