The On Deck Circle

The unofficial home of Real Talk

UEFA European Championship 2008 Quarter-Finals Preview Part I

Posted by Blake Murphy on June 19, 2008

This article has been submitted by Mostafa El Beheiry.

With the start of the Euros, the ODC has seen more footy articles in the last 2 weeks than it has in the last year, and this little number will just add to that total. An incredibly exciting group stage that saw goals, upsets, red cards, and controversy has come to an end and now the surviving teams are left with little time to lick their wounds with the knockout rounds getting underway immediately. The format is pretty simple, group A and B will face each other in the quarters and then semis with the eventual winner facing the team to get out of groups C and D. With that being said, the quarter-finals promise some quality football with some dream match ups that even non-fans might find remotely entertaining.

Portugal vs. Germany (Group A Winner v Group B Runner-Up), June 19th
The Portuguese easily clinched top spot in their group by taking down their first two opponents (Turkey and the Czech Republic) allowing them to rest key personnel for their meaningless final game against co-hosts Switzerland. The Germans didn’t afford themselves that luxury when they were upset by a tactically strong Croatian team, forcing them into a do or die (more like do, draw or die) situation against a poor, yet not as poor as expected Austrian team. A Michael Ballack free kick saw the Germans through to the quarters for the first time since winning the Euros back in 1996.

Portuguese Key to the Semis
• Strong midfield presence from both attacking (Ronaldo, Deco, Simao) and holding (Petit, Moutinho) midfielders to keep Germans from controlling the game. The holding midfielders will be especially key in bolstering a questionable Portuguese defence.
• Get the ball to Cristiano Ronaldo: With 42 goals during this club season, he is their main, though not only, attacking threat and will be integral in causing problems for Germany’s strong back four.
• Portugal’s defence was not tested by their Group A opponents, so they’ll need to prove themselves against potentially dangerous as well as taller German attackers. With quality like Pepe and Ricardo Carvalho, they should be able to keep shots away from their mediocre keeper Ricardo, but may have trouble keeping German heads away from crosses.

German Key to the Semis
• Miroslav Klose, Golden Boot winner for most goals in the 2006 World Cup and Mario Gomez, 2007 German Footballer of the Year and 2008 2nd leading Bundesliga scorer, need to get back in form as they have amounted for 0 of Germany’s 4 goals so far. 3 of those 4 goals came from Lukas Podolski who is doubtful with an undisclosed calf injury, so without him, Klose and Gomez have to score. Additionally, Gomez’s ineffectiveness might have reduced his role from starter to substitute, so we’ll see if the demotion (or threat of demotion) will up his game.
• Michael Ballack showed he’s an excellent leader against Austria and needs to do the same against Portugal, especially to inspire his midfield partner Torsten Frings who hasn’t been as in form as I’m sure he’d like to be.
• Arne Friedrich needs to be kept in at left back over Marcell Janssen who is a poor defender and will get burnt by the likes of Ronaldo consistently. Otherwise, the German defense is strong with Metzelder, Mertesacker and Lahm.

Notable Absences
• Joachim Low (GER): Loss of their coach (manager) means Germany will rely heavily on pre-match tactics and on their assistant-manager during the game.

Mo-Cash’s Money Pick It’s such a tough call between these two, but, with very little confidence and the faint hope that the Germans will step it up for the quarters, I’m going with the aerial threat of Germany over the fancy footwork of the Portuguese. 2-1 Germany.

Croatia vs. Turkey (Group B Winner v Group A Runner-Up), June 20th
The Croatians topped group B thanks to their inspired 2-1 win over Germany in their second and 1st place clinching match giving them the benefit of resting the first team for the final group match. Turkey, on the other hand, are through to the quarters after an unbelievable come from behind win in the last 15 minutes of their match against the Czech Republic who were also battling for that final knockout round spot.
Croatian Key to Success
• Manager Slaven Bilic: His emphasis on an air tight full team effort (their only world renowned star is $32M Luka Modric) was clear in their defining match against Germany where their constant pressure on the ball carrier and excellent positional play kept the Germans from getting anything going. He’s also rocking some of the finest bling of any manager in the tournament.
• Control the flow of play with the likes of Modric and Niko Kranjcar in the midfield and make sure striker Ivica Olic disrupts the Turkish defense with what I can best describe as a vicious forecheck (minus the hitting) when the ball is played into the attacking third.
• Wear their flagship checkered jerseys.

Turkish Key to Success
• Hope for the Croats to self-destruct.
• Keep cool heads. Turkish players can get very emotional and it’ll be easy for them to become undisciplined against the Croatians who will definitely frustrate them.
• Score early instead of chasing the game and earning a result in the last 10 minutes with a timely equaliser or winner as they’ve done in their last 2 matches.
• Look to inspiration from captain Nihat Kahveci who equalized and scored the winner (a beauty strike from the top of the 18 yard box) against the Czechs to bring them here. They should work off the momentum of that game.

Notable Absences
• Volkan Demirel (TUR): Though Turkey has 7 players that won’t be able to play in the quarters, their keeper Demirel, who picked up a red card in injury time against the Czechs (which put a terrified striker, Tuncay, between the posts for the dying minutes of the game where a Czech goal would result in penalty shots) is arguably the biggest lost (they’re also missing their first choice captain Emre Belozoglu). He’s an erratic keeper that makes odd decisions every now and then, but has been pretty solid so far and is an amazing penalty stopper.

Mo-Cash’s Money Pick This one’s easier, Croatia should have no problem with the Turks who had their last hurrah against the Czech Republic. 1-0 Croatia.

Part II will breakdown (or at least attempt to) group C and D matches of which includes the clash between Spain and Italy. Oh mama.

This article has been submitted by Mostafa El Beheiry.

9 Responses to “UEFA European Championship 2008 Quarter-Finals Preview Part I”

  1. AJ Says:

    Cristiano Ronaldo is simply not a decent human being after that dive. Is there any chance that yellow card will be removed?

  2. Habib Says:

    Words cannot express the satisfaction I got out of seeing Portugal lose.

  3. Mostafa Says:

    Fantastic game. The Germans completely eliminated Ronaldo from the game, he was a ghost out there. No one likes to see Portugal advance except for the Portuguese, I loved every minute of that match.

    And Ronaldo’s acting, unreal. I’ve seen a lot of embellishing, but nothing as ridiculous as that, and I’ve been defending the kid for cutting that shit out of his game recently. Old habits die hard I guess.

  4. Blake Murphy Says:

    Annnnd Cambridge explodes.

  5. AJ Says:

    We were talking and the only dive worse than that Ronaldo one was Rivaldo’s from 2002 against Turkey…

  6. Mostafa Says:

    Hahah, that’s such a classic clip, I had to watch it again. I don’t even know if I’d call it dive, it had nothing to do with the flow of play, no player on player contact… they need to come up with a word for that. Possibly a Rivaldo. What an embarassment. For everyone’s benefit, or whatever:

  7. Mostafa Says:

    I don’t understand how Turkey keeps doing this. Unbelievable.

  8. Habib Says:

    Turks are nuts! but they are pretty much done. They’re down to what….13 men total now? all those injuries and their better players like Tuncay out with yellows. Should be an easy one for the Germans, but hey, you never know.

  9. AJ Says:

    I just dont understand…I actually sprung for some checkered stuff today, and this happens! It was more for safety than anythign else…

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