The group stage of Euro 2012 has ended and now it’s time to get down to the real nitty-gritty soccer fans—the knockout stage.
The biggest surprise nation to make these quarterfinals has to be Greece (50/1 odds now to win Euro 2012), who get a chance to oust powerhouse Germany on Saturday in Gdansk. I’ll have an odds preview for that match posted here by 10:00 p.m. Pacific time on Wednesday.
For now, it’s time to focus on Portugal and the Czech Republic, the latter a team I feel is really still lucky to be here and one which benefited from the group in which it was placed (with Russia, Greece and Poland).
Here are all the various odds for the match now posted at the LVH SuperBook here in Las Vegas and some analysis, a prediction and suggested plays for Thursday’s knockout stage opener.
PORTUGAL vs. CZECH REPUBLIC
Date: Thursday, June 21, 2012
Location: National Stadium (Warsaw, Poland)
Time: 2:30 p.m. ET/11:30 a.m. PT
Television: ESPN, ESPN Deportes
Computer: Watch ESPN (Formerly ESPN3)
Odds To Advance: Portugal -260, Czech Republic +220
90 Minutes + Injury Time Odds: Portugal -½ -135, Czech Republic +½ +115
Total: 2½u -135
Three-Way Odds: Portugal -135, Czech Republic +425, Draw +250
First Half Odds: Portugal -½ +135, Czech Republic +½ -155
First Half Total: 1u -125
The Czechs rebounded nicely after a 4-1 thrashing at the hands of Russia in their opener to beat Greece (2-1) and host Poland (1-0) to move on to the quarterfinals.
Their reward? A date with Portugal and Cristiano Ronaldo.
The obvious plan of attack for Czech coach Michal Bilek will be to try and slow down the aggressive Portuguese attack, play as solid defense as possible, hope for goalkeeper extraordinaire Petr Cech to be as fabulous as he was for Chelsea in the UEFA Champions League and hope for a little luck and a one goal win.
It’s certainly not out out of the question.
But there is one big problem for the Czechs: they will likely be without captain Tomas Rosicky (Arsenal) who sustained an Achilles tendon injury in the win over Greece.
Rosicky returned to Prague for treatment, missing the Poland match, and is now back with the team in its training base in Wroclaw, but he must pass a fitness test Wednesday night. My thought is it’s 65-35 percent that Rosicky won’t play because of the severity of his injury.
Surviving any Group of Death in world soccer is quite an accomplishment, and to me, Portugal has looked like it has gotten a little bit better each match.
After losing to Germany in the opener (1-0), Portugal rallied to beat pretty decent Denmark and Netherlands sides to make it to this point.
Talent-wise, the Portuguese have the edge in this one with Pepe, Raul Meireles, Nani and CR7 among their more well-known players. This skill and speed edge should end up being the big difference in this match.
I’ve searched my head for reasons to consider the Czech Republic as a play here, but when giving betting advice to the public, it’s best to avoid trying to be too cute and just go with one’s gut and what you think will really happen.
And here, I have to back the favorites and assume Ronaldo will get that goal like he always does in what I see as a close, one goal win for Portugal in a match that I believe will go over the 2½-goal posted total.
PREDICTION: Portugal 2 Czech Republic 1
BETS: Portugal -260 (To Advance); Portugal -½ -135; Over 2½
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