In the first of 4 Quarter Finals set to take place over the next few days Portugal find themselves facing a Czech Republic side who are probably still grateful to have progressed past the group stage after some hairy moments involving Poland, Russia and Greece. The Czech side have leaked some pretty awful goals at times, with the normally ever-reliable and occasionally unbeatable Petr Cech looking a different keeper when compared to his brilliant performances in a Chelsea shirt last season.
The Czech defence will need to have ironed out their problems in time for this matchup with Portugal, a team with perhaps similar qualities (and weaknesses too) albeit much more dangerous. A daunting prospect for the likes of Cech, Kadlec, Hubnik and co is the prospect of Cristiano Ronaldo, bang in form having knocked in 2 goals against Holland with critics before the game suggesting that Ronaldo was struggling to score. He’ll be looking to add to his goal tally, no doubt aching to claim the title of top goalscorer at the Euro 2012′s such is his stubborn yet fierce personal determination.
Coming in to this match Portugal will be everyone’s favourites due to their powerful attacking armoury thanks mainly to Cristiano Ronaldo, but they also have pace and trickery within Nani, unpredictable power through Nelson Oliveira (when used), a very hard working and reliable Raul Meireles keeping things ticked over in midfield, with a fierce backline considering the likes of Pepe, Bruno Alves and Fabio Coentrao. The goalkeeper may be one of few weaknesses for Portugal, but so far in this competition the Czech Republic have looked quite flat at times. Their undoubted star players have been Vaclav Pilar and Petr Jiracek, Jiracek the scorer of the goal against Poland which helped them progress to these Quarter Finals. Both players have looked extremely comfortable on the ball, with Jiracek loving to run with the ball and take people on. Meireles will likely put a stop to this, but if Czech are allowed to break free with either of these 2 men then Portugal could be in trouble.
Personally I’ve been quite disappointed by the Czech side so far, especially with Rosicky again failing to impress although he is said to be struggling with a knock. I think Milan Baros has been pretty poor too, perhaps this was a tournament too far for him. The winner of the match between Portugal and the Czech Republic will face either Spain or France in the Semi-Final of the competition. Footy Blog predicts that it will be Portugal 3 – 1 Czech Republic.