Euro 2012 Standings: Updated Brackets for Tournament
The most exciting part of Euro 2012 is finally here, with the knockout stage kicking off tomorrow afternoon when Czech Republic takes on Portugal in the first of four quarterfinal matches. Here is a sneak peek at each quarterfinal match, along with a prediction.
Czech Republic vs. Portugal
For two teams that started off the tournament with a loss, they are certainly happy to be here. Portugal is seen by many as the prohibitive favorites in this game, but one never can tell what will happen in soccer. The beauty of the sport is that a team can dominate possession 70/30 or so, but one mistake can completely change the complexion of the contest.
Tomas Rosicky is the key for the Czechs, as he is the captain and the heart and soul of this team. Without him, I don't see Czech Republic being able to pull off this upset.
At the same time, Cristiano Ronaldo must be close to as good as he was against the Netherlands, instead of reverting back to his usual form in major international competitions.
Expect a close game throughout, with Nani scoring a late goal for Portugal to seal the win.
Prediction: Portugal 2, Czech Republic 1
Germany vs. Greece
This game will be extremely similar to Switzerland/Spain in the opening match of the 2010 World Cup. Greece will defend 75 percent of the game and hope to capitalize on one German mistake. That is exactly how the Swiss managed to defeat La Roja.
As much I would love to see it happen, the Greeks simply don't have enough firepower to keep up with the tournament's best team thus far.
Which underdog is more likely to win?
The strategy being employed by Greece works about for 50-60 minutes, before Mario Gomez breaks the collective hearts of Greeks everywhere, myself included, whereupon the clock strikes midnight on this Cinderella.
My Greece jersey just won't be enough for the Group A runners-up to pull off what would be one of the biggest upsets ever in international football.
Prediction: Germany 1, Greece 0
Spain vs. France
After taking the opening game to get rid of the cobwebs, Spain comes in following a pair of victories over Croatia and the Republic of Ireland. On the other sideline, France got exactly the opposite result of what their fans were hoping for yesterday, dropping a 2-0 match to Sweden.
The French don't match up too well with the ball-control style that Spain plays, but expect this game to be close anyways.
You just don't often see blowouts per say in the knockout stage of international competitions. Fernando Torres will score early and force the French to play catchup for most of the evening.
Jesus Navas once again comes on for Torres in the second half and seals the deal with an insurance goal.
Prediction: Spain 2, France 0
England vs. Italy
Call me crazy, but England has the feel of a team that could be hoisting the trophy come July 1. In fact, I'll go as far as to say that England will win the tournament. They have played better than anybody imagined through the first three games, and have overcome both injuries and suspensions to key players to set up a quarterfinal date with Italy.
This may be the best quarterfinal of all, as Italy has been nearly every bit as impressive. It may not be the sexiest match, with both teams preferring to create scoring chances on the counterattack, but the game will be great nonetheless.
Expect a very defensive affair, with one scoring opportunity potentially changing the course of the game.
I see this one going to extra time, with Wayne Rooney booting one past Gianluigi Buffon to win it on penalties.
Prediction: England 1, Italy 0 (PKs)
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