Portugal vs. Czech Republic – UEFA Euro 2012 Quarterfinal Match Preview

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The National Stadium in Warsaw will host the first game of the European Championship’s knockout stage, with a clash between unexpected survivors Czech Republic and Portugal. The Portuguese are the clear favorites to win the match, boasting of a better squad both on paper and in their performance on the group stage.

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Portuguese players train for their encounter with the Czechs.

As if beating a team that escaped the dreaded Group of Death wasn’t a tough enough task, the Czechs must do it without captain and star Tomas Rosicky. After suffering from an injury to his Achilles tendon in the game against Greece, Rosicky will almost certainly miss the quarterfinal match. Even if coach Michal Bilek decides to play him, his injury will definitely not allow him to be at his best.

His likely replacement will be Daniel Kolar, who so far in the tournament has failed to display much potential. Additionally, striker Milan Baros doesn’t help the Czech’s creativity issue, as his performance hasn’t lived up to expectation.

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Daniel Kolar (left) will replace Tomas Rosicky (right) in the quarterfinals.

The plan for the Czech Republic must be focused on defense. It will need to stop Nani and Cristiano Ronaldo, the latter who seems to have awoken against the Dutch, from their dangerous counter-attacks. Goalkeeper Peter Cech must also have a perfect game to allow his teammates a chance to score if Portugal’s backline allows.

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Peter Cech trains ahead of his match against Portugal.

On Paulo Bento’s side, no changes are expected to be made on the lineup that took them to the quarterfinals. Defender Pepe and midfielder Miguel Veloso will continue to be vital for the Portuguese backline, and offensive full-back Fabio Coentrão must help create as many opportunities as possible for attacking duo Nani and Ronaldo.

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Pepe (left), Cristiano Ronaldo (center), and Nani (right) will be key men for Portugal.

La Seleção had the benefit of low expectations throughout the group stage, though now that favor is on the Czech’s side. The Iberians must keep focused and inspired if they plan to be the first team through to the European Championship semifinals.

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