With the knockout stages of the Europop tournament well underway, I asked a few managers – for their highlights of the game so far (these interviews conducted before the Switzerland-Germany result):

Who do you think will win?

Romania: “There have been some sterling performances by the minnows so far, but based on solid performances during the group stages and their proven track record at being able to put them away when it matters, I just can’t see past the big boys – Germany, France & Italy. I think it could easily be any of those three but if I had to choose one I’d go for France – their new manager as shown she’s just as comfortable with more classic styles as she is with a more modern direct attacking game – and it’s that mix of tactics which will see her through.”

Turkey: “The Turkish management is contractually obliged to give douze points to the German gastarbeiten of course, however we may be placing a sneaky tenner on the French side to be eventual victors.”

Portugal: “Switzerland won’t have the players to risk going beyond Europop in the knockout stages, Lex will self destruct (& I think already has), Poland going are out to Portugal this round – I think it’ll be France if I had to pick a favorite, but Italy and Greece look viable.”

France: “My pick? Apart from me? Got to be Poland, they seem to have great songs coming from everywhere, so they would be my pick. God help us if they ever find Alicja Janosz. Other than that, I do wonder what happened to the challenge of the Faroe Islands. I think those guys could have really perked us up with some fishing songs! San Marino? Robbed! So, Poland it is.”

What’s been your favourite track of the tournament so far?

Romania: “ti Sento by Matia Bazar. I have no idea how I pulled a draw off against opposition with that kind of class – it’s sensational. Austria’s Stereotyp, Italy’s Piotta, Germany’s Lopazz and Greece’s Mikro round out my top five.”

Turkey: “Our highlight was the 89th minute Russian substitute Oskar! Well played all.”

Portugal: “I think it might be the last Greek track! [V Galaxy Orchestra – Ed.] There hasn’t been a straight-to-the-playlist banger like the PWC threw up a couple of times, but I’m still hopeful.”

France: “God knows! I’ve spent too much time trying to worry about my own songs! Erm…I quite liked V Galaxy Orchestra – “A Russian Spy In Shanghai” – cos it rhymed! It’s got a D&C feel to the title! No, I did like that one. That was good!”

Thanks to all players and voters so far! Keep on tickin’!