Well from tonight onwards we enter the fun stage of Euro 2012.
The group stages were wrapped up on Tuesday evening with England topping their group and France coming through as runners up.
So after a night off we get stuck right in with the first clash taking place in Warsaw tonight
Czech Republic Vs. Portugal
As much as I would love to see a Czech victory here I just can’t overlook the quality that Portugal have available to them with Nani, Veloso, Pepe, Coentrao and of course a certain Cristiano Ronaldo.
That isn’t to say that the Czech’s are toothless, far from it, but talismanic goal scorer Milan Baros has failed to spark so far this tournament and Tomas Rosicky is still carrying a bit of a knock. That said Petr Jiracek has been one of the top performers in the tournament so far, grabbing 2 goals in the opening 3 matches.
Tomorrow night sees the action resume in Gdansk;
Germany Vs. Greece
The second of our quarter finals presents a bit of a “David and Goliath” situation. However on this occasion I am putting my money squarely on Goliath.
Germany were one of my hot favourites before the tournament started and three games in I haven’t seen much to make me alter my views.
Germany are the only team to have picked up all 9 points from the group stage and the Holland match aside, have done so without really having to break a sweat.
Mario Gomez has been in superb form thus far with 3 goals to his name already, 2 of which against Holland were absolute crackers.
I just don’t see the Greeks having the quality to go up against Die Mannschaft in any area of the park. They were lucky in a lot of ways to get out of their group especially as they probably played the worst football out of any of the four teams.
The third quarterfinal takes place on Saturday in Donetsk
Spain Vs. France
Well, well, well isn’t this going to be a veritable feast of football.
In a lot of other years this is a match which could have graced a final, instead we see two of the heavyweights of World and European football going toe to toe in the first of the knock out stages.
I know that you can never base anything on form, particularly in cup football but if we were looking just at the group stages then you would have to say that this is a tough one to call.
Personally I haven’t really fancied Spain, even before the tournament started. There is just something about the way they are playing football at the moment which doesn’t fill me with that sense of awe that has been present in the past when watching them.
Yes Spain have the better players on paper, yes they are current World and European champions and yes they are more than capable of playing some very good football but I can see France tipping it.
Our last installment of quarterfinal fun comes on Sunday in Kyiv
England Vs. Italy
Not quite the pairing that it might have been in prior years, neither team is what you would think of as a “vintage” side , indeed a lot of people have been saying that this is the worst England side for a number of years and plays a very negative style of football, personally I disagree but I will come to that later.
If I had to choose a word to sum up Italy for me it would be a toss up between dull and mediocre. They have some talented players in the side – Di Natale, Balotelli and Pirlo spring to mind but they made really hard work of their group and were far less value for money than the very unlucky, very spirited Croatians.
As if to prove my point only 1 of Italy’s goals in the group stages actually came about from open play.
As for England, well I am finding it more difficult than usual to dislike the side this year. Sure a few of the old annoyances linger on like Cole, Terry and Gerrard (all good players but just scum) But Hodgson hasn’t been afraid to give time to the likes of Welbeck and Oxlaide -Chamberlain, both of whom have impressed so far.
Whilst it isn’t the flashiest England team of recent years it it probably the most hard working and they look well set up to counter with pace via Young, Walcott and the aforementioned Chamberlain.
With Wayne Rooney back in the side and looking to make up for lost time I could see the Azzurri stumbling in this one.