Hot topic: Group stage highlights

Best game? Loudest fans? Nicest stadium? Top player? Does Will Grigg exist? Our match reporters discuss highlights from the games they have seen in all four (six?) corners of France.

Wales supporters

Paul Saffer (@UEFAcomPaulS): Between us, I've guess we've seen pretty much all the teams in all four corners of France (or does France have six corners?), so first off – of the games you've seen live, what has been your highlight? And seeing Super Victor in a lift or a beaver by a stadium doesn't count.

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Chris Burke (@UEFAcomChrisB): For me, it has to be Northern Ireland's 2-0 win against Ukraine. For the historic result, for Northern Ireland's incredible fans and for the freak June hailstorm – which greatly added to the sense of a crazy, unforgettable occasion. They'll be talking about that one back in Belfast for years.

Tom Kell (@UEFAcomTomK): The way the England and Wales fans mingled together in Lens. There was such a great atmosphere in and around the stadium all day and night. Daniel Sturridge's winner wasn't bad either, though it did mean a frantic rewrite of my match report. Not sure I've had as many late goals as Wayne, though.

Watch the opening ceremony at Stade de France
Flashback: The opening ceremony

Wayne Harrison (@UEFAcomWayneH): The explosion of joy and relief when Antoine Griezmann headed France into a 90th-minute lead against a stubborn, but not totally defensive, Albania side at Stade Vélodrome. Les Bleus hit the woodwork and spurned a couple of other chances in the second half and looked like missing their opportunity to seal early qualification for the round of 16.

No, I don't think anybody has had as many late goals as me. Of the seven goals in Marseille, four were scored in the 88th minute or later.

Paul: When it comes to late goals, I've had late winners in Wales-Slovakia, Spain-Czech Republic, Italy-Sweden, Croatia-Spain, plus late strikes in a couple of other games too, but I think that last-gasp Croatia winner from Ivan Perišić on Tuesday just edged it. However, the atmosphere as Wales fans celebrated during their 3-0 defeat of Russia was quite something.

Tom: Are the Welsh the noisiest fans in France?

Paul: Belgium and Croatia have run them close in my games.

Wayne: Tell that to the Poles and Hungarians.

Paul: Haven't seen Northern Ireland either but they'd be in with an, ahem, shout.

Chris: Let's not forget the Albanians though – superb turnout and a big part of their win against Romania.

Wayne: Massive turnout in Marseille.

Tom: Northern Ireland supporters were absolutely relentless in the Germany game on Tuesday. Even the Germany fans I was sitting next were humming along to their songs.

Paul: Is Will Grigg actually in France, or just a meme?

Chris: I thought he was a brand of fireplace.

Paul: If he were to be loaned out, would it be a case of Will Grigg's on hire? Are the Northern Ireland fans Will Grigg's own choir? If Northern Ireland play England and he's set to watch the England defensive midfielder, is it a case of Will Grigg's on Dier?

Will Grigg's on fire! Is Mats Hummels terrified?
Will Grigg's on fire! Is Mats Hummels terrified?

Tom: The German chap sat next to me asked 70 minutes in: "If Will Grigg is so good why is he not playing?"

Paul: That's the English translation of the tournament slogan, I think.

Wayne: More generally, Stade Vélodrome is some venue. Its steep stands, when packed with fans, make for quite an occasion. As Didier Deschamps said on his return to Marseille, where he won Ligue 1 titles as player and coach, the Vélodrome is "synonymous with a proper football atmosphere". Hopefully OM's fans will have more to shout about next season than they did last, when Marseille won only three times at home in the league.

Paul: Wayne getting us back on track there! Both venues I've been at, Toulouse and Bordeaux, are smaller than that – Toulouse having the advantage of everyone being close to the pitch; and Bordeaux's architecture, while not beautiful on the outside in my eyes, keeps all the noise in.

Tom: Stade de France – what a venue. There are few things that excite me as much as that walk up the steps from the bowels of a new stadium into the bowl itself. That walk at the Stade de France for the opening game of the tournament will stick with me for a long time.

Wayne: Nice, where I was yesterday, is neat and tidy – compact, if summing it up in one word. Shame it's in the middle of nowhere [That's Wayne's opinion only – Ed].

Chris: The Stade de Lyon is a fantastic venue, even if I kind of miss Gerland and its art deco stylings. Hard to argue with the decision, though – a 60,000 capacity ought to help OL claw their way back on the domestic scene. And this tournament has marked my first trip to 'the Cauldron' – Stade Geoffroy Guichard. A little unassuming at first, but a great atmosphere. When's the Stade Paul Saffer opening?

Paul: I'd hate to be in the bowels of the Stade Paul Saffer when it opens.

Back to the football itself, do any of you reckon you've seen the champions? Despite Spain's loss to Croatia, I reckon they've got it in them again.

Wayne: I agree with you re Spain, but Turkey – and Fatih Terim said as much himself – didn't put up much of a challenge here in Nice on Friday. France laboured for long spells against Albania and looked very average.

Tom: I can't pick it. One side of the draw is so packed with favourites it's impossible to predict who'll negotiate their way through. The other half represents a great chance for one of the less-heralded sides to reach the final.

Chris: Italy might be able to grind their way through with that impermeable Turin-built defence, but the team that have impressed me most live are Croatia. They bossed their match against Czech Republic as if they were the holders – until it all fell apart at the end. Unlike some of the bigger names – France and England especially – everyone in the side seems to know what they're doing and what their team-mates will do next.

Paul: Well, I saw Croatia beat Spain and they worked damned hard with five key players out. I just reckon someone will go toe to toe with them, but in their half of the draw they have as good a chance as anyone.

What I like generally is after two weeks of competition, we probably have less of an idea who is going to win than when the competition kicked off.

Chris: I think we can safely say my Fantasy team won't be winning anything, but that's another issue.

Tom: If anyone got their Bracket Predictor right they deserve serious kudos.

Wayne: I got the first two results bang on in Predictor – then forgot to play on.

Paul: The last question: from what you've seen live, your top player so far? Andrés Iniesta just for me, just ahead of Kevin De Bruyne.

Wayne: Yes, Iniesta, although I've been impressed with Arkadiusz Milik, who has been playing just off Lewandowski and used well the space created by his more feted strike partner.

Payet joy at France fighting spirit
Emotional Payet on opening win

Tom: I've got to say Dimitri Payet due to his outstanding contribution on opening night. He was so good he made himself cry.

Paul: He's certainly leading the man of the tournament rankings so far, I'd have thought; indeed he has been top of the Player Barometer ever since that first game. Better than Zidane, dontcha know?

Chris: Luka Modrić. Such an elegant, intelligent player and always a real joy to watch. It's no coincidence Croatia struggled after he went off against the Czechs, but Ivan Rakitić isn't too bad either. That said, I haven't seen many individuals dominate in my games.

What's been more notable are the collective efforts of the likes of Iceland, Albania and Northern Ireland. The so-called minnows have really shown they can compete at this level.

Tom: I'd like to add that Eric Dier has impressed me hugely. I did make the mistake of comparing him to Sergio Busquets on Twitter, though – the responses I received suggested my followers didn't necessarily agree.

Wayne: Other highlights include passing Joey Barton outside Stade Vélodrome and sharing, albeit briefly, a lift with Emmanuel Petit.

Paul: I was in a lift with Robert Pirès at a Manchester City game the other month. Between us, can we get the whole France 2000 squad?

But that's a subject for another hot topic. Good day, and enjoy the knockouts!