After more than two weeks of Euro football, we have now finally reached the knock-out stage of the competition. Eight teams are set to fight for four spots in the semis beginning with Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal versus the Republic Czech tonight. Looking at the way Portugal had performed so far, I really fancy them to beat the 1996’s runners-up comfortably. They should be joined by tournament favourite, Germany who should easily dispose surprise package Greece in the other quarter final match up. However the two remaining quarter- final matches are a bit tricky. I do fancy Spain and Italy to go through, but won’t be surprise if France and England instead managed to make into the semi –final.
Prior to the start of the tournament, I had predicted that France, Italy, Germany and Holland will be in the semis. Well, the Dutch has already bid farewell to the tournament they won in 1988 and the French should have joined them, only to be saved by the goal line technology or shall I say the absence of it. While host nation Ukraine were left ruin with their luck, the French team stayed on the tournament by the skin of their teeth but will be facing a daunting prospect against world no. 1 team, Spain.
I know I had predicted that the France could win this year’s European Championship; however, after seeing them in action so far, I must say that I am less impressed with Laurent Blanc’s team. He will have a big task of pulling his squad and prepare them for the quarter-final match. Key players such as Benzema, Ribery and M’Villa have only one good game so far, i.e against the host nation, Ukraine where they won 2 – 0. Other than that, they look very mediocre by their very own high standard.
Spain meanwhile managed to improve as each game passed by. Nonetheless, if France can hold on for the first 60 minutes of the game, then they will have a good chance of upsetting the Spaniards who like any other Spanish team before them, don’t have plan B. If their one and only plan works (normally it does), then it will work for Spanish team. If not, all their beautiful football will mean nothing. I think Fernando Torres will be the key for this game. If he gets a good game, then Spain will definitely win!
The final quarter-final game is between two defensive minded teams – Italy v England. Please prepare enough coffee if you plan to sit in front of the TV for this one
England will be much stronger now that Wayne Rooney is available for selection. Against Ukraine, he showed that top class players like him don’t need to be in the top of their form to have impact on the game. In his first game at Euro 2012 (England’s third) he scored and England top their group, thus avoiding Spain at quarter-final.
The Italian had quite a number of problems in and off field recently. However, they are known to be mentally strong and have a habit of performing well in major tournaments even when their chips are down. Who can forget their 1982 World Cup win which was achieved against the backdrop of some scandals and shenanigans that was happening on their domestic league prior to the World Cup. They definitely will be a tough nut to crack yet again and I feel they are slightly better than the English team this time. For the Three Lions to beat Italy they will need Wayne Rooney to be at the top of his game or else Mama Mia, the Italian will be in the semis.
Like many other mad football followers across the world, who have been deprived of good night sleep lately, I’m looking forward to entertaining and quality football when the quarter final get underway. With mostly the big boys left in the field, we can be forgiven to think that the next few games will be very exciting albeit past records show otherwise. OK, bye bye for now. Stop reading my blog and get a good rest. The Portugal v Rep Czech game will start in about 3 – 4 hours.
- Portugal And Germany To The Semis, Not So Sure About The Other Two