Thursday, June 19, 2008

Euro 2008:1/4 Finals Preview:Germany vs Portugal

After 12 days since opening match, finally 8 strongest teams from this year Euro were identified. The biggest casuality is France who failed to emerge from 'Group of Death'. Both the hosts also eliminated from their own group respectively. Tonight, the first quater final is between two 2006 World Cup semi finalist, Germany and Portugal.

Portugal finished their group in 1st place with two win and a loss with second string team againts Switzerland while Germany was second in their group behind suprise package Croatia. On the paper, Portugal has very strong squad especially in attacking area. Christiano Ronaldo(please go to Real Madrid!!) will try to emulates his club form for his country and lead Portugal frontline. He will be backed by very strong midfield with the names like Deco and Quaresma who are very skillful individually. Add tough defence lead by Chelsea trio of Ricardo Carvalho, Jose Bosingwa and Paolo Fereira, Portugal will be very difficult to beat. But we already know that Germany performs very well at major tournaments. They have experience as advantage and will try to use it as a weapon to holds Portugal. I think the key for Germany is their midfield. If Ballack and co manage to stop Portugal from controls the game, I can see Germany in semi final.

What about penalty shootout?
I think Portugal will win if the game is decided by penalty. I don't know why but my instinct say Portugal has the advantage in penalty shootout. After all, they beat England twice with penalty shootout in last two major tournaments. So I think Portugal will go through if the tie go to penalty shootout.

Statistics from Eurosport
Suspended: None

Misses next match if booked: Jose Bosingwa (Portugal), Miguel (Portugal), Jorge Ribeiro (Portugal), Paulo Ferreira (Portugal), Fernando Meira (Portugal), Michael Ballack (Germany), Jens Lehmann (Germany)

Injured: None

Changes: Germany coach Joachim Loew is expected to replace striker Mario Gomez with midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger who returns after suspension. That should allow Lukas Podolski, who has been playing on the left side of midfield, to partner Miroslav Klose in attack.

Portugal coach Luiz Felipe Scolari, who made eight changes to the team that faced Switzerland, is expected to revert back to the lineup that started the first two matches.

Key stats: Portugal's 2-0 defeat by Switzerland on Sunday was only the second time in 22 matches they have failed to score - they also drew a blank in a 0-0 draw at home to Finland in November last year in qualifying for Euro 2008.

Portugal have not lost in their two previous European Championship finals matches with Germany - a 0-0 draw in 1984 and a 3-0 win in 2000 with a hat-trick by Sergio Conceicao.

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