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Low's new Germany comes at a price

Germany
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John Brewin profile picture  By John Brewin

The strengths and weaknesses of Euro 2016's quarterfinalists

Ahead of Euro 2016's quarterfinals, no team has announced itself as true favourites in France -- so what are the remaining eight sides' strengths and weaknesses?

Poland

Strength: Adam Nawalka's side have shown they are far more than just Robert Lewandowski. The Bayern Munich striker has not even scored a goal yet, though he has taken a frightful kicking from opponents (being fouled 16 times) as he takes the brunt for the greater good. Kamil Grosicki has been outstanding on the flanks, and Paris-Saint Germain-bound midfielder Grzegorz Krychowiak has been excellent.

Weakness: As long as Lewandowski is not scoring, Poland will struggle for goals, and they have notched just three in their four matches so far. Arkadiusz Milik scored their first, against Northern Ireland, but has been dreadful in front of goal since. The Poles make chances but can they finish them?

PolandPoland
PortugalPortugal
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Portugal

Strength: The continent's best player in Cristiano Ronaldo, put simply. Beyond that, they possess young talent in Andre Gomes and Renato Sanches as a supporting cast, and their last two matches -- 3-3 with Hungary and winning at the last through a Ricardo Quaresma goal against Croatia -- suggest a serious stickability.

Weakness: To watch Portugal play is distinctly frustrating. Only occasionally do their midfielders get into a passing rhythm. Up front, Nani and Ronaldo's propensity to shoot on sight can be terribly frustrating and wasteful.

Wales

Strength: "Together Stronger", the team's motto, sums it up perfectly. Yes, they have Gareth Bale, but despite his supreme athleticism and ability, he has to feed off the worker bees around him. Aaron Ramsey and Joe Allen have shown they are of elite-level Premier League class.

Weakness: A poor, disjointed performance in Saturday's 1-0 defeat of Northern Ireland reminded us that Chris Coleman's team includes players from the Championship. Meanwhile, captain Ashley Williams, who looks set to be fit to face Belgium, has struggled at centre-back so far in the tournament.

WalesWales
BelgiumBelgium
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Belgium

Strength: The fast-paced creativity of captain Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne makes Belgium the envy of the other seven quarterfinalists, and they have talent in every department. When that pair are on song, as they were in Sunday's 4-0 destruction of Hungary, Belgium are a mighty proposition.

Weakness: Coach Marc Wilmots gives such players licence to do what they wish, but his ability to organise his team remains in serious doubt. The fear is that Belgium might fold when presented with an opponent with a clear strategy, as happened in losing their opening 2-0 defeat to Antonio Conte's Italy.

Germany

Strength: They possess the know-how as world champions and serial semifinalists since the 2006 World Cup -- Germany have reached the final four in each of their last five major international tournaments. Coach Joachim Low also has a squad rich with options, meaning he can drop the likes of Mario Gotze and replace him with talents like Julian Draxler.

Weakness: Their resolve-- some of it surely lost through former captain Philipp Lahm's retirement and with 31-year-old Bastian Schweinsteiger playing a reduced role -- has yet to be properly tested. At times of strife, and aside from central defender Jerome Boateng, do Germany have the leaders to steer them from trouble?

GermanyGermany
ItalyItaly
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Germany wins 6-5 on Penalty Kicks.
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Italy

Strength: If votes were cast for man of the tournament so far then coach Conte would surely top the list of contenders. His meticulous planning drove Spain to distraction in Paris on Monday and eventually out of the tournament with a 2-0 victory that choked the spirit of the defending champions.

Weakness: The Conte Plan's success lies in defending from all sections of the team. Aside from their third group game against Ireland -- a match that Italy did not need a result from -- we are yet to see them fall behind. How easily ultra-defence can be converted into attack is a question to be posed.

France

Strength: In Dimitri Payet and Antoine Griezmann, they have two players converting successful domestic campaigns in the Premier League and La Liga, respectively, into the host nation's inspiration. They also have Paul Pogba, yet to fully hit his stride, but with the potential to win matches single-handedly. This is a team of individual brilliance.

Weakness: Up front, Olivier Giroud has worked manfully as a lone striker yet may lack the quality of finishing required in clutch situations. And that may be endemic of a team for whom the pressure of having to deliver in front of desperate, demanding home support could become too great.

FranceFrance
IcelandIceland
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Iceland

Strength: Indomitable team spirit has carried them to achieving the unlikely dream of reaching the last eight after beating England. The spirit is backed by the organisational skills of co-managers Lars Lagerback and Heimir Hallgrimsson. That historic win did not happen by accident; England's weaknesses had been pinpointed.

Weakness: A propensity to let the opponent have the ball could prove costly. It worked against the English, who were supremely wasteful in breaking down Iceland's tight lines, but a team of superior attacking quality, like France, could make them pay. That happened when Iceland conceded a late goal to Hungary for a 1-1 group-stage draw.

John Brewin is a staff writer for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @JohnBrewinESPN.

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