The Knockout stage of Euro 2012 is finally here, as the Quarter Finals of the tournament kick off tonight, as the Czech Republic take on Portugal.
So far, the Tournament has produced some fantastic football, and indeed some shock results. Not many people expected Greece to make it through Group A, and thousands of pounds were lost to the bookies when the Netherlands were sent packing after playing 3, losing 3.
Let's Hope the tournament remains so fantastically unpredictable.
Of course, the obvious results for these quarter finals seems to suggest that Portugal, Spain, Germany will definitely go through. Whilst England vs Italy could genuinely go either way. However, I believe some shocks could be in store.
Tonight, if Ronaldo turns up, Portugal will be a very difficult side to beat, there is no doubt about that. However, despite his good performance against the Dutch in their last match of the group, he has been very ordinary this tournament, and Portugal certainly have not shone through as being world beaters.
The Czech Republic certainly seem to lack the firepower, on paper, needed to beat a side like Portugal. However, their fight and spirit to take top place in Group A cannot be underestimated. If the defence, and Petr Cech
, who so far has had a distinctly average tournament, can have a good game, this match could easily go into extra time - and we all know anything can happen in this period.
Germany vs Greece seems to be the easiest Quarter Final to predict. Germany have so far been quite frankly brilliant, with Mario Gomez
firing on all cylinders and Bastien Schweinsteiger pulling the strings in midfield. Surely there can be only one winner here?
However, Greece won this tournament 8 years ago, with stout defence displays and hard work. So far in this tournament, the same recipe for success seems to be paying off. This would be a massive shock, but the Greeks have done it before, they can do it again.
Spain vs France is another tricky game to predict. Spain, World Champions and European Champions in the last 4 years will be a hard team to beat. However, so far in this tournament they have not looked at their best, despite having easily the best squad in the tournament. Defensively they have looked much more uncertain than usual, with a large part of this being due to the absence of Carlos Puyol
. However, in attack also they have not been at their fluent and glorious best. Xavi, Iniesta
, Silva and Fabregas
have all played well, but not at their best. Now is the time for them to step it up a gear.
France, on the other hand, before their loss to Sweden, had gone 23 matches unbeaten; a formidable record. They looked strong against Ukraine, and dominated the match against England, with many commenting that they were unlucky not to come away with the 3 points. With Players like Nasri, Ribery and Benzema
; they can certainly cause the Spanish some problems at the back.
England v Italy, though, is by far the hardest match to predict. Italy so far have played some good football, and have picked up decent results against Ireland, Croatia and Spain. Pirlo in the midfield has been one of the best players of the tournament so far, with Balotelli and Di Natale firing in important goals.
However, England will not be afraid of the Italians. Whilst they have been good, they have been far from spectacular, much like the England team, and so Roy Hodgson's men will fancy snatching a win here.
England's team spirit is obviously at an all time high for recent years, and their defensive displays so far have been fantastic, especially against France. Now, with Wayne Rooney
back and Steven Gerrard
having the tournament of his life, I fancy England to make it to the next stage.
Czech Republic 1 - 1 Portugal (Czech to win on Pens)
Germany 3 - 0 Greece
Spain 2 - 1 France
England 2 - Italy
What does everyone else think?