I hope you’re enjoying Euro 2012 as much as I am. You’re halfway there if you took my betting advice from the four preview columns. If you’d bet 100 units on all my suggestions, you’d be up 452 units (or 34%) after the group stage with three semifinal bets (Germany, Spain, and France) still to play.
That’s extra dough to spend on Carlsberg, the official beer of the tournament (aka the only beer they sell at the games over here, which makes you take to it pretty quickly.) I’m about to embark on a four games in four cities in four days scenario to enjoy all the quarterfinal matches in Poland and Ukraine. To say it should be fun is an understatement. I don’t expect to sleep that much, but as long as I don’t have more Ukrainians calling me a scumbag I should be in decent shape. (To be fair, I was called a scumbag for wearing a John Terry England jersey. Terry is quite the scumbag for being a cheat and a racist, but I have to cheer on my mother’s homeland.) At least I didn’t get killed celebrating Wayne Rooney’s game-winner.
To get you ready for the quarterfinal matches, we’ll be giving you a quick breakdown every day. Here’s five questions entering Thursday’s game between Portugal and Czech Republic.
1 – Is this the tournament that elevates Cristiano Ronaldo as one of the best players of all time?
He’s historically failed in major tournaments for his country despite being the second best player in the world. His game against Holland, however, was a thing of beauty. He didn’t let a couple early failures haunt him and finished the game off with a couple of goals. It was the best game I’ve ever seen him play for his country as he aggressively ran at nervous defenders the entire time. If he plays like this every game, he could carry Portugal on his back to glory?
2 – Are Czech Republic legit?
The Czechs got lucky in the group stage. They had the worst group of the four and avoided Germany by winning their group. They’ll face a team in Portugal who’s better than any team they’ve faced so far. Despite getting run off the field by Russia in their first game, they feel confident having bounced back to win the next two. But goalie Peter Cech hasn’t been great and captain Tomas Rosicky is nursing an Achilles injury. This is a true test for them.
3 – Is this the best Portugal has played in eight years?
Portugal has lacked quality in major tournaments and the focus usually lands on Ronaldo. But his teammates deserve to take some blame as well and now they can definitely take credit for the team’s strong play. The last time Portugal was this fearsome was eight years ago when the Euro championships were being played in Portugal and teams always play better in their home country. Striker Hélder Postiga at least looks like a credible threat up front and Fabio Coentrao combines with Ronaldo to make defenses fear the Portuguese left side. This is an in-form Portugal side.
4 – Does Czech Republic have a difference maker?
The 90 minutes spent watching Czech Republic’s last match against Poland would’ve been better spent watching Kate Upton’s GQ video 60 times. Their right-sided attack of Petr Jiráček and Theodor Gebre Selassie are incredibly frustrating to watch. Left midfielder Václav Pilař needs the ball on the left side more because he can actually do something with it. Hopefully the return of Rosciky makes the offense more effective and allows Pilař to do some things. Otherwise the Czechs will struggle to score.
5 – So who wins?
It’s very possible that Portugal is looking ahead to a looming semi-final with Spain. They’d like to get revenge for the defeat they suffered to Spain in the World Cup two years ago. Thankfully Portugal coach Paulo Bento is a mad man. He’ll get his team focused and if they play as well as they’ve been playing, this should be a no-brainer.
Final Score: Portugal 2 Czech Republic 0
Portugal to win (-149)
Both teams will not score in the match (-120)