Group B was considered the "group of death" for its four inhabitants during the group stage. Now, it will be the group of death for Greece and the Czech Republic in the quarterfinals.
Germany vs. Greece
The Greeks have a matchup that only the wildest of gamblers could love, meeting with a German squad that has looked formidable in wins against Portugal, the Netherlands and Denmark.
If the Greeks can't score an early goal and sink back into the defensive shell that kept Russia off the board, I simply don't see this team advancing past the Germans.
Sure, the Greeks are a resilient bunch that have a pesky way of garnering positive results. But they don't have the elite options that the Germans boast with Mesut Ozil, Thomas Muller, Lukas Podolski, Mario Gomez, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Philipp Lahm.
And I haven't even talked about the quality players residing on Germany's bench. The Greeks stand a chance in this game because you never know what will happen, but if I were picking Greece to win this game, I'd probably play the lottery as well because I'd obviously be feeling lucky.
I predict the Germans will win this one fairly easily, 2-1.
Portugal vs. Czech Republic
The tilt between the Czech Republic and Portugal should be more competitive. After being completely obliterated by Russia 4-1, the Czechs recovered with two wins and finished atop Group A.
There's just one caveat for the Czechs: If they are without Tomas Rosicky—unlikely to play with a calf injury—I'm not sure they have the quality on the pitch to compete with this dangerous Portuguese squad.
The easy analysis on Portugal is to grunt a few times, mutter "They have Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani on the wings, dude" and make an incredibly salient point in the process. But as talented and vital to Portugal's success as those two are, this isn't a one-dimensional team.
In all three games, the Portuguese played extremely solid defense and did well to maintain their possession. For all of the star power on the wings, this is a team that has played excellent team soccer throughout.
Had Ronaldo finished his opportunities in the first two games or looked to assist open teammates a bit more often against the Netherlands (his perfect pass to Nani that the Manchester United star failed to finish notwithstanding), this Portugal side could have easily netted more than five goals in this tournament.
Who will advance in these quarterfinal matches?
I think the danger for this Czech Republic team is the Portugal counterattack. We saw how vulnerable they were against the very good Russian counter, and frankly, this Portugal side is far more dangerous in space.
If the Czechs don't play patient football and work hard to get back defensively off of turnovers, this Portugal team will absolutely gut them on the wings.
Portugal has shown inconsistency in finishing—something that needs to be taken into account. Still, I like Portugal to take this one 2-1.
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