Portugal and the Czech Republic are set to kick off tomorrow, marking the start of the quarterfinals. A time in competition play where players are expected to step up their game and play their hearts out for the flag on the jersey that bonds them united as a national team.
The quarters are where winners are found and players and teams that are unable to execute their game plans to the fullest extent are exposed and sent packing.
After the jump, I preview a prediction piece for 5 of the top guys left who I believe will have sub-par showings that will stun their fans.
The 23-year-old Real Madrid midfielder has been rather quiet in this year's European Championships, registering just a loan assist in three group stage matches.
With that being said, the dominant German squad hasn't really needed Ozil to provide extra firepower because they are absolutely stacked with talent for this tournament.
German manager Joachim Loew fully expects the crafty play-maker to break out when the Germans take on a Greece team that wrestled their way back into the quarterfinals after swiftly taking care of the Russians with a 1-0 victory.
Mesut's skills come from his precision, threading the needle passes that somehow end up past the defense. In the three games of EURO 2012, he hasn't really found his touch for these incredible play-making abilities, so why will the quarters be any different?
If the Greeks do not do a proper scouting report of Ozil, I suspect the Portuguese (should they defeat the Czechs) will make sure to keep tabs on the man—who has been named the German's most creative player by the manager––at all times.
Some great supplemental reading from Goal.com here in an article by Leander Schaerlaeckens regarding the deterioration of Torres' game in the past two seasons.
Many questions are posed, but one really stuck out to me. Did Torres rush himself back to the pitch too quickly after a knee surgery? My gut is telling me that he made a mistake by not rehabilitating longer, because it is clear he is out of sync with his game.
Here's a fun fact for you. This past season with Chelsea, Torres went through a brutal six month scoring drought.
His two goals against one of the tournaments weakest teams in Ireland surely boosted his confidence as a finisher like no other, but it didn't translate to success in the Croatian game.
Granted, the Spanish really will succeed with or without Torres because of the talent on their roster, but will they be able to compete to the level of say the Germans with their striker clearly not at the level of dominance that he had established for previous campaigns?
But which Ronaldo will show up for the quarterfinal match against the Czech Republic?
He was very impressive in Portugal's take down of the Dutch squad, but the Dutch were ultimately the tournament's biggest disappointment this season, dropping three straight games for the first time since 1990.
Should the high energy Ronaldo that has brought so much previous success show up to play tomorrow, then the Czech Republic will have to get very lucky to come away with a win, but who knows?
After all, the keeper's best friend could end up factoring in heavily and upstaging the Portuguese captain––anything is possible, right?
Speaking of Ronaldo possibly becoming a letdown to fans with a poor showing, Petr Jiráček's remarkable run has led Portugal's opponent in the Czech Republic into a quarterfinals chock full of momentum.
Jiráček, with his flowing locks of hair and crucial goals, has propelled this Czech team past Greece and Poland and back to a spot that the national team hasn't been in since 1996.
But will they be able to take down Ronaldo and the talented Portuguese squad? They will rely on Jiráček to be open often.
He will have to generate tons of offense to overcome the Portuguese and I'm not confident that the Wolfsburg FC midfielder will be able to deliver a Pele type performance in this situation.
Oh Wayne, what are we to do with you? You get yourself suspended from tournament play for the first two games because of a boneheaded move out of frustration in a a qualifying match.
You sat on the sidelines all dressed up just itching to get out there on the pitch yourself. And sure enough when you did come back you did exactly what England needed all along––put the ball in the back of the net.
The Swedes were a decent warm-up. However, England couldn't even overpower them as they held on to edge the Swedish with a 1-0 victory.
Up next is a classic rivalry with a team that Rooney and some of his squad mates have seen plenty of in the Italians.
With a questionable roster hampered by injuries, will Rooney and the English be able to come up with the scoring touch that will propel them past Italy?
Look for the Italian squad to put ample pressure on Rooney, which will in turn frustrate him to the point where he starts making bad decisions.