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What I Learned From Watching Day 13 of The Euros 2012, Quarterfinal No. 1

June 22, 2012

Quarterfinal action began yesterday at the Euros, and the first berth in the Euro Final Four was earned.

“Petr Cech will have to be at his absolute best facing a likely barrage of shots from all angles to keep his side in the match.”

And Cech was superb for 78 minutes, credited with only four official saves on Portugal’s 20 shots but there was no doubt that Cech made several more stops, blocks and deflections.  The Czechs started out the game well, giving as good as they got for the first 15-20 minutes, but as against the Netherlands, Portugal slowly started to take control of the game, and spent an inordinate amount of time in the Czech half of the field.   Without a doubt the Czechs missed injured Captain and midfield conductor Tomas Rosicky, not even fit enough to come on as a sub, but he was not going to make the difference yesterday.  Small consolation though this now familiar refrain is (see Croatia and Denmark), the Czechs battled back from their opening match disaster against Russia to represent well in the Quarters and can exit the Euros proudly, heads held high.

  • The critics, the doubters, the snarks, they can take the day off.  I don’t care what you’ve thought of him before, but on Thursday evening in Warsaw, Cristiano Ronaldo was brilliant. It’s not just about the goal either, although that itself was pure class. He took four times as many shots as the entire Czech team did, constantly terrorizing the entire Czech defense from all sides, sending two shots off the post and forcing several errors and desperate measures from the overmatched Theodor Gebre Selassie (who got caught ball-watching on the goal and had been impressive in group play) and eventually the rest of his backline mates.  Furthermore, contrary to prior big matches for the Seleccao, Ronaldo didn’t let early frustrations and near-misses derail his efforts. This is the Ronaldo the soccer world has been waiting for in a major international tournament, and if he retains this focus and this form, the Spain-France winner will have their hands full.
  • I like Germany over Greece.  I’ve been guilty of underestimating Greece for over eight years, so I won’t continue that mistake.  I’m certain they will frustrate Germany’s efforts in the attacking end of the field, packing in “nine behind”, and they are always a threat on set pieces. Die Mannschaft just has too much skill and patience to be held back for 90 minutes, even if their goals come from long strikes by the likes of Bastian Schweinsteiger or Thomas Muller.  Plus, Greece will miss “The Dude”, De Niro look-a-like, their Captain and impresario Giorgos Karagounis, who is suspended for the match via yellow card accumulation.  Bet365 has Greece at 11:1 to win the game outright (before penalty kicks), which will likely be the longest odds you’ll see the rest of the tourney, but nevertheless I’d still bet on Goliath.

Up Next: Friday June 22 (today), Germany vs. Greece in Gdansk, first kick at 11:45AM PST. I am looking forward to what banners and chants the Greek fans will have in the stadium awaiting the scheduled-to-attend Angela Merkel.

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From → Soccer, Sports

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