Czech Republic coach Michal Bilek says his team need to focus on halting all of Portugal’s players, not just star man Cristiano Ronaldo.
Real Madrid forward Ronaldo had a slow start to Euro 2012, but came alive in Portugal’s final match of Group B, netting twice in a 2-1 victory over the Netherlands.
He is expected to pose a major threat to the Czech Republic in the first quarter-final of the tournament on Thursday, but Bilek knows his side will face other dangers at the National Stadium, Warsaw.
“The Portugal team is compact and well balanced … We are not only preparing for Ronaldo but for the whole team,” he said.
Czech Republic were surprise winners of Group A after a comprehensive 4-1 loss to Russia in their opening match, but they rallied to record victories over Greece and co-hosts Poland.
“The first match was difficult, we played too open and Russia punished us with their counter attacks,” Bilek said.
“We have since strengthened our defence which was key to us progressing … we have learned from the first match.
Theodor Gebre Selassie is likely to be the man directly charged with taming Ronaldo on Thursday, but Bilek will ensure the Slovan Liberec fullback receives plenty of assistance from his colleagues.
“He (Gebre Selassie) is preparing very well, he is fit and it’s certainly an interesting challenge for him,” he said.
“Ronaldo can score 40-50 goals a season, but the whole team needs to defend and defend well.
The last time the two countries met in the quarter-finals of the European Championships was in 1996, when a memorable Karel Poborsky goal earned the Czech Republic an upset 1-0 win at Villa Park, Birmingham.
The beaten Portugal team boasted the likes of Rui Costa, Luis Figo and Paulo Sousa, but it was the Czech Republic who came out on top, going on to lose the final to Germany on golden goals.
“Of course we remember this match, the quarter-final and Poborsky’s lob was amazing … the situation is similar … Portugal is a strong team but we have a chance,” Bilek said.
Czech midfielder Tomas Rosicky is in doubt due to a heel problem, but the experienced Arsenal man remains hopeful of featuring.
“I have trained this morning but we will see tomorrow, we will see the reaction of my Achilles heel,” he said.
“I think after training today I have a better chance of playing tomorrow.”
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