Mbappe v Ronaldo? Rangnick revenge? Your guide to Euro knockout stage

A picture of a man dressed as a lion in a Dutch fan walk and another picture of Cristiano Ronaldo and Kylian Mbappe on the football pitchGetty Images
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With 36 games played and eight teams eliminated, we’re now into knockout football at the European Championship in Germany.

Twenty four teams remain as they look to be one of the two sides who will compete in the final of Euro 2024 in Berlin on 14 July.

BBC Sport takes a look at a few of things to watch out for in the knockout stages.

Is this year Germany’s year?

A Germany fan holds up a fake Euro trophy

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Home advantage.

There is nothing quite like winning a major trophy on home soil and there is a growing belief in Germany that they might just do it.

As fan zones filled up to watch their opening game against Scotland there was optimism – but still a feeling that Germany were building a team.

It all changed after their thumping 5-1 victory and now Germany fans truly believe.

Speak to fans in bars, train stations and cafes across the country and there are not many doubting them.

With a squad packed full of talent, a buoyant following in the stands, and a young, creative manager in Julian Nagelsman, it is a real opportunity for Germany to make it all the way to Berlin.

Ronaldo’s goal and an Mbappe match-up?

The back of Kylian Mbappe and Cristiano Ronaldo

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It is going to come, right?

Cristiano Ronaldo was the joint top scorer at Euro 2020 and all eyes were on him as the spearhead of this Portugal team in Germany.

But the 39-year-old didn’t manage a goal in the group stage – the first time that has happened at either a Euros or World Cup.

It isn’t for the want of trying, however. He has had 12 shots so far at Euro 2024 – more than any other player.

Should both sides navigate their last-16 games, Portugal and France will meet in the quarter-finals and you would imagine Ronaldo would go all out to upstage Kylian Mbappe.

Failing to match expectations

Belgium’s ‘golden generation’ may have been and gone, but ranked third in the world, there are still high expectations on them to perform at this tournament.

So far, they have failed to deliver.

A goalless draw with Ukraine was enough to send fans over the edge as they jeered and voiced their frustrations despite Belgium progressing to the knockout stages.

Kevin de Bruyne sent out a rallying call in his media conference on Wednesday, claiming Belgium “need the fans”.

Will they back them? Or have Belgium got work to do to win them back over?

‘You can’t win anything with kids’

Ferran Torres and Lamine Yamal of Spain celebrate after Spain's win against Italy at Euro 2024

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But maybe Spain can.

Stars of the tournament so far, the Spaniards have returned to the heights of European football and have new kids on the block.

Nico Williams, Lamine Yamal and co have lit up the tournament with their fearlessness and creativity so far.

From nutmegs to backheel flicks and no-look passes, Spain’s talented youngsters have shown they have the ingredients to take this country all the way.

At 16 years old, Barcelona’s Yamal has already struck fear into defenders and there is no suggestion he intends on slowing down any time soon.

Spanish fans are now sporting Williams’ name on the backs of their shirts and Pedri controls the midfield like a veteran.

The kids are alright.

Dutch fans doing their thing

Dutch fans marching to a game in Germany at Euro 2024

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It is the fans who make a tournament and every country’s supporters have played their part in bringing joy and atmosphere to games at Euro 2024.

However, it has to be said that the Netherlands have been a particularly memorable presence in Germany so far.

In Hamburg, Leipzig and Berlin they turned the streets bright orange, walking, dancing and singing their way to the stadiums behind a double-decker bus blasting our trance tunes.

Next, Munich residents can look forward to witnessing it as that is where the Dutch will play Romania in their last-16 tie on 2 July.

Oh, and curious about the song they sing when bouncing left to right during their march? Go search ‘Links Rechts’. You’re welcome.

Austria’s fast starts

Austria are proving to be the one’s to watch at Euro 2024, having topped a difficult group that included the Netherlands and France, and a lot of the credit goes down to their boss – former Manchester United interim manager Ralf Rangnick.

Known as “The Godfather of Gegenpressing”, Rangnick has fashioned a side that is full of energy, running and desire.

Their love of the press means they have been capable of doing some damage early on in games. In March, Christoph Baumgartner scored the fastest goal in international football with a strike inside seven seconds against Slovakia, and in Germany they have been quick off the mark too.

They have scored in the opening 10 minutes in two of their three games so far, so Turkey will need to be alert from the outset in their last-16 match.

Could Rangnick, who was derided at United, come back to haunt English football in the semi-finals?

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