The quarter final match up between Germany and Portugal has the early indications that it will be nothing like the pre-tournament expectations. In fact, many experts are giving Portugal the edge.
It should be interesting to see how Germany is able to fend off the injury bug. Midfielder Torsten Frings has a broken rib and striker Lukas Podolski, who has already tallied three goals, has been fighting a calf injury. It is still not clear whether or not those two German stars will take the field Thursday.
One thing is certain: Germany has played awful in their last two matches, and must improve to beat the impressive Portugese. Led by the world's best player Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal has a stunning attack that can score at will.
Deco, the veteran midfielder, also poses a problem for the German defense. His crafty ability to find players in the box could be key to Portuguese success in the quarters.
The unsung hero of this match may just be German midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger. He did not play in the game versus Austria due to a suspension, but will be back on the pitch to play Portugal.
That bodes well for the Germans as Schweinsteiger put on a show in his last time out against the Portuguese in the 2006 World Cup. Schweini scored two goals in the third-place game allowing the Germans to walk home with World Cup bronze.
As far as Euro 2008 is concerned, this may be one of the most hotly contested match ups thus far. Both teams are extremely capable offensively, and it may come down to penalty kicks to decide who makes it to the semi finals.
That said, I think Jens Lehmann has more experience in tough situations than does Ricardo, Portugal's goalkeeper. If you can remember back to the 2006 World Cup when Lehmann helped win the game against Argentina, he can play well in penalty kicks.
Prediction: Germany 2 - Portugal 2. Germany wins 5-3 on PKs.