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Euro 2012 Quarterfinals: Underdogs Who Will Shock Top Contenders

WARSAW, POLAND - JUNE 16:  Giorgos Karagounis of Greece celebrates victory and progress to the quarter finals during the UEFA EURO 2012 group A match between Greece and Russia at The National Stadium on June 16, 2012 in Warsaw, Poland.  (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
John RichardsonCorrespondent IJune 19, 2012

Only one round of group games to go in Group D, then things should get interesting.

The quarterfinal matchups are as follows:

Czech Republic vs. Portugal

Greece vs. Germany

Spain vs. England/France/Ukraine

Italy vs. England/France/Ukraine

We've already seen some shocking upsets at Euro 2012, but who can we expect to do it when it really matters? Will all the top sides progress to the semifinals? Or will we see a Cinderella story from one of the underdogs? Anything can happen, but that's why we love football.

Here are the reasons why I believe Greece and the Czech Republic stand a legitimate chance of reaching the semifinals. (and possibly the final)

 

Czech Republic vs. Portugal

When: June 21 at 2:45 pm ET

Where: National Stadium Warsaw

TV: ESPN

The Czech Republic have gone somewhat under the radar thus far at Euro 2012.

If we discount the 4-1 embarrassment against Russia, the Czechs have looked solid (as long as Petr Cech doesn't drop any more balls).

A quarterfinal tie with Portugal is probably just as good as they could have asked for.

Out of the eight teams likely to be involved in the knockout stages, the only team with a worse reputation than Portugal is Greece.

You never know which Portuguese side is going to show up on a given day.

Will it be the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani firing on all cylinders, or will we experience some of the dodgy form they showed throughout qualifying?

If the Czechs impose themselves early and keep tight to Ronaldo, they should stand a real chance.

Captain Tomas Rosicky is not expected to make a full recovery from his Achilles problem, so Václav Pilař  and Petr Jiráček (two of the most impressive players at Euro 2012 in my opinion) will need to take over much of the responsibility.

For this match, manager Michal Bilek should consider withdrawing the lethargic Milan Baros, and instead insert a younger more eager Tomas Necid to the fray.

WROCLAW, POLAND - JUNE 16:  The Czech Republic team celebrate during the UEFA EURO 2012 group A match between Czech Republic and Poland at The Municipal Stadium on June 16, 2012 in Wroclaw, Poland.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
Clive Mason/Getty Images

I have not been overwhelmed with Baros' performances at the tournament. His lackadaisical runs and typical isolation up top will not serve him well against the Portuguese. The Czechs must incorporate a high-pressure mentality, and quickly strike on counter attacks if they are to progress to the next round.

Greece vs. Germany

When: June 22 at 2:45 pm ET

Where: Arena Gdansk

TV: ESPN

Greece couldn't possibly repeat 2004 could they?

They barely managed to squeeze themselves out of the group stage, but now they must take things one game at a time.

A matchup against Germany is a formidable one to say the least, and one that they would have liked to avoid if at all possible.

The Greeks will be missing captain Giorgos Karagounis due to suspension, a huge loss, but one they should be able to cope with.

If Dimitris Salpingidis can get on the ball often, I see him causing all kinds of problems for the German defense.

WARSAW, POLAND - JUNE 16:  Giorgos Karagounis (L) of Greece and team mates celebrate victory and progress to the quarter finals during the UEFA EURO 2012 group A match between Greece and Russia at The National Stadium on June 16, 2012 in Warsaw, Poland.
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

With help from Giorgos Samaras (useless through three games) holding the ball up on the opposite wing, the Greeks could put together some meaningful attacks.

On the defensive side of things, containing Mario Gomez is a must. Then they'll look around and see they still have Ozil, Podolski, and Muller to worry about.

Greece will need to employ a defensive-minded approach to this game, and hope that they can hit they Germans on the counter.

Taking a lesson from Chelsea in the Champions League semifinal would serve them well.

No one expected them to win it in 2004, but three solid team performance could see them shock the world and reach the promise land once again.

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