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Euro 2012 Quarter-Final Preview: Czechs v Portugal

by Rob Dore | June 21, 2012

Czech Republic v Portugal, Thursday 7.45pm (RTE2 & BBC1)

The lowdown…

After being royally tonked in their opening game against Russia, it looked like only one team was going to top Group A and it wasn’t the Czech Republic. First impressions can be deceiving and we were all deceived. In the end Russia didn’t even qualify whilst the Czechs bounced back with two hard fought wins over Greece and Poland to qualify as group winners.
Portugal have had a similar tournament, losing their opener to Germany but winning two close games over Denmark and the Netherlands to qualify.

The match bet…

These two nations don’t play often but when they do it’s at the European Championships. At Euro 1996 the Czech Republic beat Portugal at the quarter-final stage before losing to Germany in the final. At Euro 2008 Portugal won their meeting at the group stages to top the group, before going out in quarter-finals….to Germany

This is a tough game to call, with both sides showing good organisation, work ethic and resilience to come back from opening defeats. So far neither team has looked world beaters but they will provide a tough test for anyone they face.

The deciding factor is likely to be a stand-out individual who comes up with something special and the most special player on the pitch is Cristiano Ronaldo. When his team really needed him to shine against the Netherlands he stepped up to the mark and gave the kind of performance we’ve seen on a regular basis in a Real Madrid shirt. The Czechs have the talented (but not fit) Tomas Rosicky, who has the passing ability to unlock any defence, but if Ronaldo is on top form then expect Portugal to justify their 4/5 price with a win and a place in the semi-finals.

A correct score stab in the dark…

Other than the Czech Republic’s opening loss to Russia, these teams have been in tight competitive games. As this is a stab in the dark I can’t go for the obvious 2-1 win to Portugal at 8/1. If Ronaldo really performs then he could pull the Czech backline apart. There’s no point going over the top though so I’m going for Portugal to win 3-1 at 14/1.

A goalscorer bet to look out for…

Seeing as tipping Ronaldo to score first is a clear favourite at 7/2, that doesn’t count as a tip. A very random bet would be Ricardo Queresma to score last at 12/1. The Besiktas show-pony hasn’t even played in the tournament so far but he did come on late to score the last goal when these two teams met in Euro 2008. If he doesn’t play you’ll get your money back.

Something a bit random…

Portugal have scored the first goal in their last two games, scoring before the 30th minute on both occasions. Portugal are 2/1 to score the first goal before the 30th minute in this game.

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