Euro 2012 Odds: Quarterfinal Predictions for Top 8 Teams
As we continue to march on through the thrilling exhibition of football that is Euro 2012, the teams still in it keep getting better and better.
With much of the group-stage cannon fodder dead and buried, we can now move into the most exciting phases of the competition, where one tiny mistake can leave one of the big boys reeling and send a highly touted side back home with their tails between their legs.
Many of the best countries in the world will have to square off against each other and play that careful game of outmaneuvering one another to sneak to the next round and keep the dream alive.
Here's how all of the top teams might do in the quarterfinals.
While Greece have once again squeaked into the quarters with a unique brand of tough, organized football, they have the unenviable task of taking on arguably the best side in the world in Germany.
The Greeks will derive some motivation from this battle against their main creditor, but it might not be enough against a team that is just so good.
Key players like Giorgos Karagounis will have to be at their best if Greece is to have any hope of taking down the mighty Gernans, but even that might not be sufficient in this David vs. Goliath matchup.
Odds to advance: 12-1
The Czechs got a very tough draw in a Portugal side that is playing arguably the best football of the tournament and is led by some guy named Cristiano something-or-other.
Getting Tomas Rosicky back after a recurrence of a calf injury he picked up with club side Arsenal at the end of the season will be crucial for the Czech Republic, which needs its talisman and captain to produce anything on a consistent basis in attack.
Whether or not Rosicky returns, though, this is a battling side that is not easily dispatched of. If Portugal does not take them seriously, even for a second, there will be a price to pay.
Odds to advance: 4-1
Led by a very effective core of veterans, Italy secured the second-place finish in its group that many had expected before the tournament began, but arguably has the easier opponent in England.
Both sides will be very tough to break down defensively, with both displaying a readiness to hunker down and hold a lead once presented with one.
With silky smooth Andrea Pirlo in fine form, however, this is a side that can create as well as defend, and the English defence will have to be on constant watch against either Antonio Di Natale or Mario Balotelli.
Odds to advance: 2-1
If Cristiano Ronaldo can finally produce in major tournaments, this is a side that can go places.
After netting two against the Netherlands, Ronaldo might have finally broken his duck, and usually the goals start to flow freely after a player breaks a barren streak.
Having arguably the best player in the world on your team doesn't hurt, but this is a side that does have other options. Both Nani and Helder Postiga have been quite effective in recent matches, so their service to Ronaldo and others will be crucial in the games ahead.
I say "games," of course, because this team should easily dispatch of a comparatively untalented Czech Republic side.
Odds to advance: 1-8
After some very solid, encouraging play in their opening two fixtures, France completely dropped the ball against Sweden, a side with nothing to play for, and only advanced to the quarterfinals due to some help from England.
Of course, that doesn't matter now, but Laurent Blanc's men must sort out what ails them before their match against Spain, the defending European and world champions, who pass teams to death week in and week out.
Due to suspension, Philippe Mexes will be replaced by Laurent Koscielny, whose more technical style might be helpful to a defence that is sure to be scrambling all game.
Odds to advance: 7-1
Much like their French rivals, English fans will not have been put at ease by their display in the final group stage match against Ukraine.
The Three Lions did win, but only after some major help from the referees and nervy, last-ditch defending to keep out the likes of Marko Devic and Yaroslav Rakitskiy as the game wore on.
Moreover, England was mostly unimaginative in attack, although Steven Gerrard was his metronomic self and Wayne Rooney did add some life to the front line.
While Ukraine was playing in front of a ravenous home crowd, things will not get any easier against Italy. This might be the least exciting of all the quarterfinals games.
Odds to advance: 1-2
Along with Portugal, Germany has played some of the tournament's best football, and it would not be unreasonable to say that they are the best form team in the world at present.
Not only did the Germans win the "Group of Death," they were the only team in the entire tournament to win all three of their matches in doing so.
Blessed with an obscene amount of depth in all areas, Joachim Low is spoiled for choice at virtually every position. Might he give a couple of his regulars a rest against Greece? I wouldn't bet against it, although the best players like Mario Gomez, Mesut Ozil and Bastian Schweinsteiger should start.
The Greeks may not make it comfortable for Germany, but they will surely advance nonetheless.
Odds to advance: 1-17
Regardless of whether you're tired of Spain's tiki-taka passing game, it is impossible to argue that it doesn't works for arguably the greatest national side ever to step onto a pitch.
And that is exactly what this team is striving to become. Three consecutive major championships would likely solidify Spain's title as the best ever, and their hunger to climb the mountain again is still insatiable.
It looks as if Vicente del Bosque has dropped the ill-fated 4-6-0 formation he used against Italy to start the tournament, but his ridiculously versatile array of weapons on the bench, including Cesc Fabregas, can turn any game on its head.
Spain just don't lose these days, and that is a fairly valuable ability in the knockout stages out a tournament.
Odds to advance: 1-6
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