2012 UEFA European Soccer Championship Quarterfinals
Portugal vs Czech Republic
Warsaw National Stadium – Warsaw, Poland
Thursday, June 21, 2012, 2:45 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
All odds courtesy of Bookmaker
Point Spread: Portugal -1/2 -145 / Czech Republic +1/2 +125 (regulation and stoppage time only, does not include extra time or a shootout)
Total Goals: under 2 1/2 -140 / over 2 1/2 +120 (regulation and stoppage time only)
Three Way Line: Portugal -145 / Czech Rep +440 / Draw +250 (regulation and stoppage only)
Odds to advance to semifinals: Portugal -310 / Czech Rep. +250 (includes extra time and shootout)
Both Portugal and the Czech Republic lost their opening games of Euro 2012 in the group stage. Both teams rebounded with wins in their last two games to advance to the quarterfinals.The winner will take on either Spain or France in the semifinals next week.
The Czechs, managed by Michael Bilek, were destroyed 4-1 by Russia to open group play, but came back to beat Greece 2-1 and tournament co-host Poland 1-0 to win group A.The Czechs finished with 6 points and were given some help by Greece who upset Russia. The Greeks also advanced from the group.
Portugal, managed by Paulo Bento, were placed in the dreaded group of death along with Germany, the Netherlands, and Denmark. All were in the top ten in pre-tournament FIFA rankings. Portugal lost to Germany 1-0 in the Group B opener, but beat Denmark 3-2 and the Netherlands 2-1 to finish second in the group behind the undefeated Germans.
Portugal and the Czech Republic have played 11 times in history, with the series tied 4-3-4. The last time they played was in the group stage of Euro 2008, with Portugal winning handily 3-1.
The Czech Republic are led by keeper Petr Cech, who also led Chelsea to an unlikely UEFA Champions League win last month against Bayern Munich. Cech gave up a ton of goals to a tough Russia team, but righted the ship against Greece and Poland giving up only one goal in those games.
The Czechs will employ a 4-5-1 attack. Team captain Tomas Rosicky missed the game against Poland with and Achilles’ injury, and is doubtful against Portugal. If the Arsenal midfielder can’t go it will be up to Daniel Kolar to replace him. Midfielders Vaclav Pilar and Petr Jiracek have scored all four goals for the Czechs with each scoring 2. Pilar, Jiracek, and Kolar will support striker Milan Baros. Defender Theodor Gebre Selassie has the unenviable task of trying to slow down dynamic Portuguese striker Cristiano Ronaldo.
Portugal keeper Rui Patricio has given up 4 goals in 3 games in Euro 2012. Three of the goals were headed in, so that could be a concern. Portugal has given up at least one goal in every game so far.
Portugal will rely on a dynamic counterattack led by Ronaldo, one of the best players in the world. The Portuguese use a 3-3-4 attack. The stereotype about Portugal was it was Ronaldo plus 10 other guys, but that has changed. Ronaldo scored 2 goals against the Netherlands, and had 2 more chances bounce off the post in that game. Ronaldo and Nani will look to get forward Helder Postiga some open looks. The midfielders are led by Raul Meireles, Miguel Veloso and Joao Moutinho. Portugal is healthy but 5 players have yellow cards and will face a suspension if they are booked again, including Postiga, Ronaldo, and Meireles.
The Czechs will look to clog the midfield in order to slow down the speedy Portuguese. The Czech Republic will get destroyed if they try to get into a track meet. They will be content to keep the action in the middle section of the pitch, and just hope for one chance to score. The Czechs are also very physical as they have been whistled for 14 fouls in 3 games. Still, I think Portugal simply has way too much and wins 2-1 in regulation to advance to the semifinals.
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