It was also great that only two teams, Switzerland and the reigning champs, Greece, had been definitely eliminated with one match to play.
In the games that truly mattered Germany, in Group B, laboured to a none too impressive 1-0 victory over co-hosts Austria who played the better football but looked as if they could've carried on playing until EURO 2012 and still not scored a goal. They were beaten by an absolute screamer of a freekick from Michael Ballack, who in the words of Alan Partridge, looked as if he had a 'foot like a traction engine'.
Whilst Germany were limping into the quarter finals, group winners Croatia fielded a weakened team but were still able to overpower the Poles in Klagenfurt.
Group A saw the game of the tournament, although to be honest it was only the astonishing last 15 minutes that lifted it above the ordinary, as Turkey became the "comeback kings" overturning a 2-0 deficit to defeat the Czech Republic 3-2 with Petr "Best Goalkeeper in the World" Cech literally dropping a clanger for the dangerous Nihat to make it 2-2 with a few minutes to go. He then went one better a few minutes later when he buried a one-on-one with great aplomb to send the Turkish fans into raptures.
Over in Basel the Swiss restored some pride by beating the Portugeezers B team, 2-0, with the pleasingly named Hakan Yakin getting his second and third goals of the tournament, although even this and the Czech's defeat still didn't prevent them from finishing bottom of the group.
Group C (or 'THE GROUP OF DEATH') had the biggest focus on it going into the final round as at least one of the World Cup finalists from 2006 was going to leave the tournament with their tail between their legs. The permutations were so complex that the BBC got Gary Lineker to explain it to us in the manner of a teacher explaining quantum string theory to a grop of special needs children with ADHD.
In the end it was Italy who progressed, beating an extremely poor France side 2-0 even though up front for the Italians, Luca Toni looked as if he couldn't hit a cow's arse with a banjo the size of Switzerland. The French were hampered by an early injury to Ribery and the fact that Domenech was clearly, completely and utterly useless, I really think that even Steve McClaren could've done a better job with that team. The only downside for the World Champs was losing both Pirlo and Gattuso for the quarter finals due to getting their second cautions of the tournament.
In the other match, where Italy and France had hinted there could be a stitch up with the Dutch deliberately losing to the Romanians in order to eliminate both of them, it proved to be a walk in the park for the Netherlands as Romania never really showed any desire to get the win that they needed. A second string Dutch team waltzed ever closer to the final in Vienna with goals from Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Robin Van Persie, the Netherlands finishing the group with 9 goals scored by seven different players.
Finally in Group D, the Russians, lead by wünderkind Arshavin, who'd returned to the team following his two match suspension (and with striker, Pavlyuchenko and midfielder, Zhirkov looking particularly dangerous), tore the Swedes a new one and really should've won by more than 2-0, the Swedes really looking the tired and aging side that they are.
In the meaningless rubber, Spain came from behind to beat Greece, 2-1, with reserve striker, Daniel Guiza, heading in the late, late winner. At least the pointless Greeks went home with a goal to their credit, a typical set-piece header from central defender, Angelos Charisteas, meaning that every team in the tournament has scored at least once.
So the quarter finals line up as follows;
Portugal vs Germany (Basel), with the Germans hoping to avenge their hammering in their terrible EURO 2000 campaign.
Croatia vs Turkey (Vienna), the match up of the relative underdogs, although with Croatia beating favourites Germany in the group stages and, of course, having beaten England twice in the qualifiers, expect ITV to continue to big them up as if they were a combination of Brazil 1970 and the 1960's Real Madrid team.
Netherlands vs Russia (Basel), a re-match of the 1988 Euro final, this should be a cracker of a match with two technically excellent teams who play fast counter-attacking football, so expect a boring 0-0 with Russia to go through on penalties.
Spain vs Italy (Vienna), so the Spanish face their ultimate bête noir, the Italians, will they finally show a spine in a major tournament for the first time since 1964 or will they crumble psychologically allowing a, frankly quite poor, Italy team to progress to the semis?