Czech Republic vs Portugal - Match preview and team news
The quarter-finals of Euro 2012 kick off tonight with Group A winners, Czech Republic, facing off against the Group B runners-up, Portugal. Despite a 4-1 loss in their opening fixture against Russia, the Czechs managed to rally and win their last fixture against co-hosts, Poland, to top the group. Whilst they were expected to progress through the first stage, the same cannot be said for Portugal. In what had been dubbed the ‘Group of Death’, the Portuguese had to overcome Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands – beating the latter in the final fixture to secure qualification.
Portugal have failed to get a hold on any of their previous three games at the tournament, being dominated possession wise in every match. Whilst it could be argued that when they do receive the ball they prove wasteful in front of goal – only scoring 5 times from 51 attempts, 17 of which were on target – it is also fair to say that considering the lack of time they have had on the ball they show an impressive attacking style which means turning defense into attack instantaneously.
The Czechs will be wary of this attacking threat, having conceded five in three games but they will be hoping that European Champion Petr Cech can continue his form from their last game where he managed to fend off 15 shots without conceding against the Polish. The games so far from the Czech Republic have been end-to-end affairs, with neither team really dominating possession and several shots on each goal per game – despite this they have two wins under their belt but a painful memory of losing 4-1 on the opening day to Russia.
One big concern for the Eastern Europeans is that they will start the game without captain Tomas Rosicky. The playmaker picked up an Achilles injury against Greece and is expected to start on the bench tonight. Daniel Kolar is expected to take his place once again.
Portugal have no injury concerns heading into their fifth European Championships quarter-final. Bruno Alves and Raul Meirless seem to have recovered from the knocks they picked up against the Dutch, meaning head coach, Paulo Bento, is likely to go with the same first eleven that started all of their three group games.
The two teams have only played each other twice; the first time was at Euro 1996 in England when the Czech Republic finished runners-up to Germany, beating Portugal in the quarter-finals that time 1-0. The last time that met was in the group stage of Euro 2008 in Switzerland where Portugal ran out 3-1 winners. For tonight’s winner a place in the semi-finals against either Spain or France awaits them.
See what the expert tipsters at OLBG are tipping on Czech Republic v Portugal