Euro 2012 Quarterfinals: Predicting the Results of Each Game
The group stage is concluded and the absence of some larger nations such as Netherlands and Russia make for an interesting quarter-final stage.
At this point, as before the start of the tournament, the teams most likely to capture the Henri Delaunay trophy are Spain and Germany.
This does not mean it's a formality, but with both nations on opposite sides of the draw, a Spain vs. Germany final is looking likely.
There are still six other nations in contention who will be looking to spring an upset and oblige the bookmakers' desire for an early exit of a heavily backed favourite.
The question at this stage, is what teams are capable of springing a surprise?
Czech Republic looked dead and buried after their opening game loss to Russia but bounced back well.
Greece may have peaked in the groups by qualifying, though 2004's European Championship win means they cannot be discounted.
Over the next four slides, we look to predict the results of all four games and attempt to formulate the semi-final line-ups.
Czech Republic vs. Portugal
Portugal and Czech Republic would have secretly fancied a quarter-final spot before the tournament began and will both be invigorated at the potential of reaching the semi-finals.
Portugal's second-place finish in Group B was as impressive as the Czech's ability to bounce back from their 4-1 defeat to Russia in their opening game.
The key issue in the clash will be the Czech's ability to contain the Portuguese counterattack.
Against a slick Russian side, they were taken apart by the passing and movement and the presence of Ronaldo up front will be something that may not be capable of defending against.
It's unusual for a side to top a group, and have a negative goal difference, as is the case with Czech Republic.
This further highlights where the weakness of this team is and the potential for it to be exposed again.
For that reason, and although they will be industrious, I think Ronaldo's Portugal will be making another European Champion semi-final appearance.
Czech Republic 1 - 2 Portugal
Germany vs. Greece
The story of the tournament so far is the resilience of Greece and an escape job from Group A that Harry Houdini would be proud of.
Going into the last game of the group, they were completely discounted, having been offered no hope of defeating a Russian side that many had tipped as possible winners.
For the Greeks however, this has all the hallmarks of their final game in the tournament.
While they may have risen to the occasion in 2004, it won't be a repeat upset against Germany.
The Germans have kept their winning record intact, after 10 straight wins in the qualifying phase, they made it 13 on the spin by topping Group B with nine points.
Greece have only kept one clean sheet, against Russia, and at times they've looked completely at odds defensively.
For that reason I think Germany will be able to find capitalize on any gaps that are presented, while containing a Greek forward line that have averaged one goal per game so far.
Germany seems destined for a final clash with Spain and they won't be taking their eyes of the prize against the Euro 2004 champions.
Germany 2- 0 Greece
Spain vs. France
Without a doubt, the clash of the round, as the current World and European champions take on Laurent Blanc's French side.
Spain have looked quietly cohesive, not yet putting their full stamp on the competition, but their slow start is consistent with their previous efforts at major championships.
France, even after watching them for three games, have a look of a team that are unquantifiable at best.
They have the players and at times throughout Group D, showed what they are capable of. Against Spain, they are going to need everything to fall into place.
The Spanish have been experimenting with six midfield players and no recognised striker. I expect them to start with one up top for this.
France haven't look completely convincing in their group games and they will need Karim Benzema and Franck Ribéry to improve if they are to score against a side that has the best defensive record in the tournament so far.
The midfield battle will be key and while France have options in attack, I can see Spain wearing them down.
France will have opportunities but expect Spain to edge a close and exciting clash.
Spain 2 - 1 France
England vs. Italy
This is a match that wasn't talked of much when the permutations of possible quarter-final matches were being reviewed.
Most people expected France to top Group D and see England put to the sword against Spain.
That is not the case and under Roy Hodgson. England have shown a steely resolve with a game based on a strong defence and counterattack.
Italy, who finished second to Spain in Group C, have set up their team in much the same way.
Historically, the Italians are always strong defensively and this style of play is something England will struggle to break down.
Gerrard and Rooney are akin to Pirlo and Balotelli, and the combination that links up best could be the deciding factor in an international fixture that hasn't taken place since Italy won 2-1 at Elland Road.
There's not much to separate these sides; both finished with a goal difference of plus two and are undefeated.
The game will come down to the ability of either side to take to chances that come their way.
It will be a tight battle and it may take extra-time or penalties to separate them.
For that reason, I'm taking this one to finish in a draw.
England 1 - 1 Italy (England to win in extra-time or penalties)
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