Czech Republic vs. Portugal in Warsaw
How they got here: Czech Republic lost 4-1 to Russia on the opening day of the tournament. The Czechs rebounded against Greece with a 2-1 victory. In the last day of group play, Czech Republic beat Poland 1-0, and topped Group A because Russia were shocked by Greece. Portugal also lost their first game, a 1-0 defeat against Germany. However, Portugal played well and finished second in Group B. The Portuguese took down Denmark 3-2 and Netherland 2-1 to survive the “Group of Death.”
Czech Republic player to watch: Vaclav Pilar- The winger has played well and was outstanding against Poland. He will be a key player as the tournament progresses and as Tomas Rosicky’s health remains a question mark.
Portugal player to watch: Cristiano Ronaldo- Ronaldo “broke his duck“ against Netherlands with two goals that were calming taken. Ronaldo still has been criticized for not playing well in big games and he and some of his teammates have the Euro 2008 quarterfinal defeat against Germany fresh in their minds.
Czech Republic strategy: The Czechs played perfectly against Poland. They defended early and weathered the inevitable storm of Polish scoring chances. Late in the first half and the second half the Czechs were the team attacking and gave Poland a lot of troubles. A performance like that might be needed against Portugal.
Portugal strategy: Before the tournament I thought that Portugal would be a huge disappointment. I was proven wrong, as they have played strong in all three of their matches. Ronaldo and Fabio Coentrao have stuck out as the best players. Portugal needs to tighten up defensively and Ronaldo and Nani will provide the opportunities.
Prediction: Portugal 2, Czech Republic 1 (After Extra Time)