Three players to look out for in Saturday's Euro 2016 last-16 games

Poland's Robert Lewandowski in action

Three games take place today as the knock-out stages of Euro 2016 gets underway, with two Real Madrid stars among those likely to shine.

Northern Ireland Training- EURO 2016Northern Ireland Training- EURO 2016

After a couple of days break from football, Euro 2016 returns in earnest as the knock-out stage of the competition gets underway today with three last-16 clashes.

First up is Switzerland v Poland in St Etienne. Switzerland finished as runners-up to France in Group A, while Poland qualified with the same points as Germany in Group C with seven points, they missed out on top spot on goal difference.

Wales take on Northern Ireland in Paris in what is sure to feel a like a club level local derby. The Welsh were winners of Group B with six points while Northern Ireland got through as one of the best third-place sides, largely thanks to their win over Ukraine, and a terrific performance from goalkeeper Michael McGovern against Germany. 

Then to conclude the days games, Croatia take on Portugal in Lens - in a game that will see at least one of the tournament's big names go home. Croatia were one of the more impressive performers in the group stages, topping Group D with seven points - including beating reigning champions Spain.

Portugal by contrast failed to win any of their games and made it through because of three draws against Iceland, Austria and a thriller against Hungary. 

Three big games, here are three players to watch: 

Robert Lewandowski

Poland's Robert LewandowskiPoland's Robert Lewandowski

Poland may have been impressive in their opening three games so far, but their star striker has yet to fire, and if they are going to go far in this tournament, they could with Lewandowski to start firing. There was one particular chance against Ukraine that he really ought to have buried in the opening exchanges of that encounter.

There were suggestions that Liverpool have been interested in him, according to the Daily Star, but one doubts that will materialise, so it's likely to be lack of form as his future at Bayern Munich looks pretty assured at the present moment. 

Gareth Bale 

Gareth Bale scores v RussiaGareth Bale scores v Russia

Three goals in three games have underlined him as the talisman of the Wales side that could be on an improbable run at these European Championships. Northern Ireland are going to be a tough side for them to break down tonight and the chances are that Bale's talents could be the catalyst for them to make it through to the last eight. He's had a decent supporting cast working with him, but the challenge that he and Wales face this evening is a little different in terms of the type of game compared to the group stage.

Luka Modric 

Croatia's Luka Modric applauds fans as he is substitutedCroatia's Luka Modric applauds fans as he is substituted

He was absent through injury during much of the second half of Croatia's draw against the Czech Republic - where it seemed he was sorely missed, but his absence wasn't felt so much in their win over Spain which saw them top the group. If fit, then he is definitely going to be at the heart of the side taking on Portugal - a massive hurdle for them to clear even if they are playing a side that has underperformed so far. Modric will be the man who they will look to run the show.

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch