The final eight sides to compete in the Euro 2012 quarter-finals have been decided after four tight qualifying groups all went down to the last day to elect the progressing sides. Four eagerly-anticipated quarters will be played from Thursday through to Sunday, with the competition’s real movers and shakers starting to make themselves known. Here are 1000goals’ quarter-finals predictions.
Czech Republic vs Portugal
Two relatively evenly-matched sides go head-to-head on Thursday. Both teams have recovered well from opening day defeat to win their last two games and make the knockout stages; the Czechs topped Group A, with the Portuguese ending up in second in Group B. Michal Bilek’s men have showcased a fighting spirit, with a number of unsung heroes such as Vaclav Pilar and Petr Jiracek coming to the fire; however talisman Tomas Rosicky looks set to miss out through injury. It is all about Cristiano Ronaldo for Paulo Bento’s men; if the Real Madrid man shows up they could win convincingly, if he doesn’t they could be heading home.
Prediction – Czech Republic 0 Portugal 2 – Ronaldo’s two goals against Netherlands should have him and the Iberian nation confident in this one.
Germany vs Greece
Early favourites Germany have lived up to expectations by winning all three ‘group of death’ games to top Group B. Joachim Low’s men were never really under any concerted pressure and their quality, experience and promise is there to see. Greece meanwhile have been dogged and determined, with their 1-0 win over Russia in the last game of Group A sealing a runners-up spot for Fernando Santos’ men. Germany will find the Greeks unrelenting and difficult to break down, however anything other than German progression would be a major shock.
Prediction – Germany 1 Greece 0 – This will not be a walkover, but the quality of the likes of Bastian Schweinsteiger and Mesut Ozil will see the Germans progress.
Spain vs France
Holders Spain have yet to really fully hit their straps, and have actually had to bare the brunt of some criticism from the Spanish press. However, Vicente del Bosque’s La Roja team topped Group C with two wins and a draw, however the world champions need to decide on their best formation and personnel to retain their trophy. France looked odds-on to top Group D, but a 2-0 defeat to Sweden saw them end up in second in Group D, and blot a 23-match unbeaten streak. Laurent Blanc has strong attacking players at his disposal but must sort out his backline to stand a chance in this one.
Prediction – Spain 1 France 1 – This will be close, with extra-time a real possibility; Spain may well knick this one on penalties.
England vs Italy
A battle of two cautious and defensively-minded teams, the side that actually comes out looking to win the match rather than avoid getting beat will probably prevail. England are unbeaten after two wins and a draw in Group D, but have been less than convincing. Italy have been solid but lack a real spark to see them through to the latter stages. Cesare Prandelli has changed tactics and formations, and depends too much on Andrea Pirlo for creativity.
Prediction – England 1 Italy 0 – In a tight game, England will adopt Chelsea’s Champions League winning tactics to steal victory with the odd goal and stern defence.