Euro 2012: Portugal v Czech Republic preview

Updated: June 20, 2012

Both Portugal and the Czech Republic had cause for concern after their opening matches of Euro 2012. Portugal less so as they came up a clear second best to a fancied Germany and a fitful Mario Gomez.

The Czech Republic’s dissection by a fluid Russian outfit was as exceptional for the Russians dexterity as it was for their opponent’s flat footedness.

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Portugal manager Paulo Bento was under some pressure but garnered hope from the Danish victory over Holland and the fact that they lost to a heavily fancied Germany.

His counterpart Michal Bilek was already under considerable pressure leading into the tournament and had been heavily criticized at times in qualification. The opening qualifier was a home defeat to Lithuania. Unsurprisingly it was deemed unacceptable. Only for a blatant Jan Rezek dive in their away match to Scotland that secured a match-equalizing penalty it could have been Scotland joining Ireland in Poland.

Both sides have steadily improved with the unravelling of the tournament. Portugal overcame the German set back with a jittery victory over Denmark and a fluid dissection of a Dutch team that didn’t know if they were coming or going, although after Ronaldo’s brace it was rather clear they were going and going home disillusioned as to where it all went wrong.

With Steve McLaren today linked as a replacement for Bert Van Marjwijk some factions must be wondering where it will end.

The Czech Republic bounced back from the harrowing defeat {it is possible} to beat an even keeled Greece and then to beat a Polish side that promised much but lost its swagger dramatically against the effective Czechs.

In this first quarter final Daniel Kolar could well be asked to continue deputising for Tomas Rosicky who is recovering from an Achilles tendon injury. Quite a rise for a player who plays domestically for Viktoria Plzen, one of the surprise packages in last season’s Champion’s League.

The Czech’s are expected to play a defensive game against their fancied opponents, but in Petr Jiracek and Vaclav Pilar have players who have proven they can score and could create for Milan Baros who most likely will play as a lone striker.

Portuguese Defender Bruno Alves and midfielder Raul Meireles both picked up knocks in the Dutch match but are expected to play. An unchanged side is expected from Paulo Bento.

History in fixtures is rarely relevant. But it is interesting to note that a Portuguese side that played more attractive football then its current counterparts lost at this same juncture to today’s opponents in Euro 96. Karel Poborsky providing the unorthodox goal that encouraged Alex Ferguson to take a risk he would regret.

Based on the level of Cristiano Ronaldo’s performance in their last match and the strength that runs through the side from Pepe to Jao Moutinho to Ronaldo himself, it is hard to see past a win for the Iberian nation.

The Czech Republic though are unfancied and that in itself is a bonus.

Moutinho, when asked to comment on Ronaldo’s weak points advised yesterday “he’s the complete player and I don’t think I could pick out any.” However he is not the complete leader and if there is a shift against what’s expected in this match, this could work in the Czech Republics favour.

This could end a little flat and all square and the prospect of penalties could loom. But Ronaldo, Nani and Helder Postiga should have enough to see Portugal through to a semi final meeting with Spain or France.

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