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Last eight place up for grabs in Czech-Portugal clash

SoccerNews in European Championships 11 Jun 2008

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Portugal coach Luiz Felipe Scolari says his side will be confident – but not too confident – when they face the Czech Republic on Wednesday with a Euro 2008 quarter-final place at stake.

Euro 2004 finalists Portugal were impressive on Saturday night when they sealed a 2-0 win over Turkey at the Stade de Geneva to top Group A, while the Czechs also opened with a 1-0 win over Switzerland in Basel.

Portugal's Pepe and Raul Meireles scored second-half goals in Geneva to see off Turkey and Scolari's side look destined for the knock-out phase.

But Czech substitute Vaclav Sverkos gave his side a winning start with a second-half strike that broke Switzerland after some dogged resistance.

A win for either side here would put them in the last eight, with Scolari saying he expects a touch examination from the Czech team and will be doing his homework.

“We'll be confident (against the Czech Republic) but not too confident,” said Scolari, otherwise known as 'Big Phil' and apparently in the running for the vacancy at Chelsea.

“We'll watch videos of the Czechs – they play in a different way to Turkey, let's see if we can keep it up and keep playing this beautiful football as that way we'll go through to the second round.

“We are halfway on the road to qualifying. If we get six points we should qualify, so 50 percent after one match is excellent. It gives us some breathing space.”

His experienced midfielder Deco was also denying that one impressive victory had set them on their destiny of winning the title.

“We do not risk falling into the trap of being too complacent,” said Deco, who has like several of his fellow Barcelona squad members put in transfer requests following a disappointing season.

“We are not underestimating the Czech Republic, quite the contrary, we have a lot of respect for them. It will be a bit more difficult than against Turkey.

“The fact the Czechs had problems against the Swiss means nothing.”

Deco said that there had been no over-the-top celebrating by the Portuguese following their opening victory.

“We avoided celebrating euphorically because nothing has been achieved yet,” added Deco, who was part of the Portuguese squads that reached the Euro 2004 final and the 2006 World Cup semi-finals.

The Czechs veteran coach Karel Bruckner insisted standards must be raised ahead of Portugal as his side looked a bit bereft of creative ideas and sorely missed the injured playmaker and captain Tomas Rosicky.

He said: “We have to analyse our last game, because we weren't faultless and there are things to work on.

“Our next game will also be very difficult.”

Bruckner brought Sverkos off the bench as their lone forward against the Swiss in place of towering Nuremberg stiker Jan Koller and the move paid off with Sverkos hitting the winner.

“I don't believe I can replace a player like Jan Koller, maybe no one can,” Sverkos said of Koller who will retire from the national side after the finals.

“If we stick to the current system, it's very important for the team that Jan plays.

“He works very hard for us, especially closing down defenders. He's a unique player in terms of bringing the ball down and playing it on the ground. I believe there is no player like him, not in our team, not in any team. He's unique.”

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