Warsaw will be the venue of the first quarterfinal of Euro 2012, on Thursday, June 21, when Czech Republic face Portugal. The two teams have had some memorable encounters in the competition; they last met in Euro 2008, when Portugal hammered their East European rivals, 3-1.
Twelve years earlier, the teams clashed in the quarter-finals of Euro 1996, when Czech Republic got the better of Portugal en route to the final where they lost to Germany. Both sides had similar losing starts to their current campaign and sealed their qualifications past the group stage, with Czech Republic shunting out co-hosts Poland, and Portugal despatching Holland, respectively, in their last group matches.
Beginning as one of the fancied sides in Group A, Czech republic had a rude awakening when they lost 4-1 to Russia in their group opener. A 2-1 win against Greece brought Michael Bilek’s wards back on track but it was left to Petr Jiracek’s 72nd minute winner against Poland to get the side to the quarter-finals.
Midfielder Tomas Rosicky will be absent owing to an injured Achilles tendon that saw him miss his side’s match with Poland. Daniel Kosar who replaced him is likely to figure in the starting eleven on Thursday. Vaclav Pilar who along with the other winger Jiracek has scored for his side will be key in the absence of a great attacking spearhead, with striker Milan Baros appearing to be past his sell-by date.
After losing 1-0 to Germany in their opening match in Group B, Portugal came to the party, beating Denmark 3-2 and Holland 2-1, in convincing wins that underscored their calibre in what was touted as the Group of Death. Ronaldo confounded his critics with a brace that should effectively shut up talk about his poor finishing ability in recent times. But the lack of adequate support from Postiga and Nani in attack should be a worry for the Iberians, as is their porous defence. They have been particularly vulnerable in the air with three of four goals shipped by them coming off headers.
Chelsea keeper Petr Cech between the posts could be key to Czech Republic’s fortunes; as ever Portugal fans will bank their hopes on a good showing by Ronaldo.
Czech Republic’s probable eleven: Cech, Selassie, Sivoc, Kadlec, Limbersky, Hubschman, Plasil, Jiracek, Kolar, Pilar, Baros.
Portugal’s probable eleven: Patricio, Pereira, Pepe, Alves, Coentrao, Moutinho, Veloso, Meireles, Ronaldo, Postiga, Nani.
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Jinxatious is the Chief Editor of SportingAttitude.com
An avid writer, on an eclectic range of subjects, he brings to bear editorial experience garnered with a national newspaper in South-East Asia. He also has sportscasting experience, as a cricket commentator, and his passion for sport extends beyond Cricket, to Football, Tennis, and Olympic Sports.