We are now down to the final 8 of Euro 2012.
So far this Euro 2012 has had its share of surprises, whether it be the collapse of the Dutch – who somehow lost all 3 of its matches in group play, or Ireland being outscored 10 to 1 in group play.
We have also seen teams like Greece and England being able to overcome some adversity to qualify for the quarters. After England played France to a lifeless 1-1 draw I wasn’t sure the English would be able to survive, but they have and now will face their hardest test yet in the Italians.
Below are each of the Quarterfinal Matchups with 3 things to watch for in each match:
Czech Republic vs Portugal
June 21 – 2:45 est (ESPN)
- Ronaldo: were the 2 goals against the Dutch his wake-up call? I believe so, and I think we will see the best player in the world give the porous Czech defense fits for 90 minutes.
- The Czech Republic didn’t play a tough schedule in group play except for Russia, who they beat 4-1. They will need to be technically sound in the back to stop Portugal’s Nani and Ronaldo. Their only chance might be on the counter attack.
- Portugal needs to be ready to play and attack at the sound of the whistle. Against Germany and Denmark I thought they took to long to get going. Now it’s win or go home so Portugal should be ready against a Czech team that has nothing to lose.
Prediction – Portugal 2 Czech Republic 0
Germany vs Greece
June 22 – 2:45 est (ESPN)
- Mario Gomez is a beast in the air and I don’t think Greece will be able to withstand the German air assault.
- To say that I’m shocked that Greece made it into the Quarters is an understatement. For Greece to shock the world and beat what has been by far the best team in the tournament, Greece will need to possess the ball and choose the right situations to attack. Otherwise the Greek defense will be exposed and Germany will kill them.
- Germany is hitting on all cylinders right now. The first 20 minutes will be huge for Greece. If they can hold on against Germany’s pressure they could make it interesting.
Prediction – Germany 3 Greece 1
Spain vs France
June 23 – 2:45 est (ESPN)
- Which Spain side will we see? The side who looked bored against Italy and Croatia or the side that tore apart Ireland? The first 30 minutes will be telling to see if there is a push from the midfield to get into the final 3rd and produce chances.
- Fernando Torres? He is an absolute mystery. At times he provides a spark and is scoring goals and making chances for his teammates, and at other times he looks completely bored and lost. If he shows the confidence he did against the Irish I think he will be good for at least 1 goal.
- France is defensively sound and have a strong midfield anchored by Ribery. Look for France to come out and try to get an early goal and then drop back and rely on possession and defense.
Prediction – France 1 Spain 0
England vs Italy
June 24 – 2:45 est (ESPN)
- I think Andy Carroll and Danny Welbeck have performed adequately in place of Wayne Rooney, but Rooney is back now and gives England a much needed boost. The question is whether Rooney will receive the same type of service he does at Manchester United.
- Italy’s Andrea Pirlo has been sensational in running the midfield and providing chances for Balotelli. The question is how England will play Pirlo and if Steven Gerrard and Scott Parker can tackle and contain Pirlo’s distribution and attacking.
- I think these two teams are fairly evenly matched and the game will most likely swing on which team makes a costly foul or a lapse in judgement in the back.
Prediction – England 2 Italy 1
Starting on Thursday the intensity at Euro 2012 will be turned up a notch with the loser having the rest of the summer to contemplate what might have been this summer in Poland/Ukraine.
I don’t know about you but I’m pulling hard for a England vs Germany Semifinal!!