Czech Republic v Portugal, 19:45
The Czech Republic have a great tournament pedigree, especially when it comes to memorable moments in the European Championships, but this generation would probably admit things aren’t quite as good as they were. With that in mind, a team that no longer boasts the genius of a Nedved or Smicer has still won their group, putting the Russians out, and in some respects been given an easier draw than they could have predicted.
That is because Portugal occupy a spot everyone thought was Holland’s, and their side is certainly not as good as the Dutch man-for-man. On the other hand, the Portuguese are probably looking at this tie as a bonus, as finishing second in your group is supposed to precede a difficult game against a better team. The fact both sides will fancy a win is also normally good news for the spectators, although a nuance of Portuguese play may cause a problem.
With the attacking skill of Nani and Ronaldo to call on, a lot of the difficulty for Paulo Bento was going to be finding space for them on the pitch, but he has neatly circumnavigated the issue by playing predominantly on the break. If the Czech Republic management realise this they’ll most like set their team up not to commit too heavily in attack early on, which could lead to a stalemate, but with the number of quality attackers on the pitch we should get a goal at some stage.
Czech Republic captain Tomas Rosicky is doubtful with an Achilles injury picked up against Greece, so Daniel Kolar is on standby to deputise, as he did against Poland. Portuguese duo Bruno Alves and Raul Meireles both appear to have overcome the knocks picked up against the Dutch, and Paolo Bento has no other fitness concerns meaning he’ll most likely name an unchanged side.
The Czech Republic are 47/10 with BetDaq as winners, while PaddyPower make Portugal 4/5 favourites to progress to the semi-final. Ronaldo is 4/1 favourite with StanJames to be the first goalscorer, although I quite like the look of the 20/1 with BetFair on the Czechs to win it 2-1.