20th June 2012
Nobody expected to see the two sides in the quarter-finals after they lost their opening games at the Euro 2012, so we can say Czech Republic and Portugal have done well to go this far. That still doesn’t mean that the two teams will settle for a place in the quarter-finals and we should see a very intense affair at National Stadium in Warsaw.
The golden age of Czech football has passed long time ago and the national team have been struggling a great deal ever since the likes of Koller, Nedved, Poborski, Jankulovski and Galasek. retired from international football. Michal Bilek’s side somehow managed to qualify for the 2012 European Championship, but they were not given big chances to make it to the quarter-finals despite being placed in by far the easiest group at the tournament finals. The predictions seemed to be spot on when the Czechs suffered a 4-1 defeat to Russia in their opening game, but narrow wins over Greece and Poland saw them qualify for the next stage from top of their group. However, with Tomas Rosicky a major doubt through Achilles injury and Milan Baros nowhere near his best, the Czechs look terribly short of the required quality to match in-form Portugal side. Michal Bilek’s side deserve plaudits for victories over Greece and Poland, but beating a side like Portugal is a whole different ball game.
Portugal are well known for their tendency to flop at major tournaments and with that being the case, Paulo Bento’s side were hardly seen as favourites to qualify from the group of death. Things became even more difficult when the Seleccao lost their opening game to Germany, although the solid showing against one of the main contenders for the title gave the fans something to hope for. Portugal then raised their game to beat very good Denmark side in the second round, before cementing the second place in the standings thanks to an impressive victory over the Netherlands. While the 2-1 win over Oranje was obviously extremely important, there is every chance that Portugal fans were even happier to see Cristiano Ronaldo back to his best after the Real Madrid forward had been largely disappointing in the first two games. With one of world’s best players on top of his game and the entire team looking much better than at the start of the tournament, surely the Seleccao will have no problems beating an average Czech Republic side.
Czech Republic have done well to reach the Euro 2012 quarter-finals, but this feels like the end of the road for them, especially taking into account that neither Rosicky nor Baros are in the best shape. Portugal have been showing a lot of improvement of late and they clearly have what it takes to make it to the semi-finals.
Verdict: Away win Portugal (2)
Best Odds: 4/5
Bookmaker: Paddy Power
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