Czech Republic vs. Portugal: 6 Players to Watch
The first quarterfinal of UEFA Euro 2012 sees the Czech Republic take on Portugal on June 21.
The Czech Republic—perhaps no more unlikely to be here than Portugal—have to go into this match as heavy underdogs following their 4-1 thumping by Russia.
Portugal's only defeat in the competition thus far has been against Germany—the only team left with a 100 percent record.
It will be a fascinating affair with the pressure of a semifinal place ensuring that things will be a little more strained and tighter than usual.
Here are six players to keep an eye out for in Czech Republic vs. Portugal.
We have to start with one of the greatest players on the planet, and it would be highly foolish to dismiss him as a player not to watch.
Ronaldo was uncharacteristically wasteful in Portugual's game against Denmark, but thankfully he was bailed out by his colleagues.
He scored his first goals of the tournament with an important brace against the Netherlands and will be looking to harness his Real Madrid form against the Czech Republic.
Pilar has been an inspiration from midfield, notching two goals in his three appearances to date for the Czech Republic.
After a pulverizing defeat at the hands of Russia, the Czech Republic dusted themselves off and gained crucial victories over Greece and co-hosts Poland to win the group.
Pilar has averaged approximately 3.3 shots per game thus far.
Known to be slightly temperamental in his Real Madrid persona, Pepe has been solid for Portugal all tournament long thus far.
His header against Denmark was crucial to Portugal's 3-2 success, and Pepe will be responsible for marshaling the Portuguese back line.
When Pilar has been unable to deliver for the Czechs, Petr Jiracek has stood up to be counted.
The midfielder scored against Greece in the Czech Republic's 2-1 victory and also scored the only goal of the game against co-hosts Poland.
He has now scored three goals in his last five appearances for his national side—certainly one to be considered a danger man.
Portugal's experiences with producing a world-class out-and-out striker have proved difficult over the years.
Currently spearheading their attack is Helder Postiga, a man who has scored one goal in his last six outings for Portugal.
The effectiveness of Portugal's attack will depend on the hit-and-miss form of Postiga on June 21.
Arsenal's Tomas Rosicky has only seen 136 minutes of action so far in the tournament due to a nagging injury.
If he's fit, Rosicky is the string-puller in the Czech midfield and can influence the game enormously with his range of passing and forward runs.
It will be a race against time to see whether he makes the kickoff or not.
Czech Republic vs. Portugal kicks off at 2:45p.m. Eastern on June 21, and will be played at the National Stadium, Warsaw.
All statistics were taken from www.uefa.com.
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