Tonight’s first quarter final is being billed as C-Ron vs Ballack. But is it as simple as that?
Germany They looked mediocre in the group stages, apart from one solid win over Poland, and I don’t read too much into that, as Poland are terrible. Ballack and co. began Euro 2008 as tournament favourites – now the bookies have them as fifth favourites, behind Holland, Spain, Portugal and Italy. That says it all. And if, as seems likely, Torsten Frings fails a late fitness test (fractured rib), they may struggle to contain Cristiano Ronaldo. It’s vital that Michael Ballack has a fine game, especially with strikers Miroslav Klose and Mario Gomez in such bad form. If Ballack flops, Germany has little chance to progress.
My take on Portugal below…
Portugal Coasted through their group, and had the luxury of resting key players against the Swiss. I don’t fully trust their keeper, although he is a big-game player, and they have no world-class striker, but elsewehere Portugal are as strong as any team at this tournament. Pepe has impressed me at the back, and Carvalho has been as strong as ever. His game IQ is simply superb one could easily assume he can have a battel of wits against the best chess and texas holdem players in the planet. On the other hand, Simao, Petit, Deco and Moutinho can all be pleased with their work so far, but all eyes will be on one man: C-Ron. He’s been good, but not amazing, so far at this tournament – now is the time for him to show Europe how brilliant he is. After his exertions for Man Utd, I just hope he has something left in the tank.
Verdict If Frings doesn’t play, I strongly fancy Portugal to go through, as Ronaldo could enjoy the freedom of the pitch. However, it’s always foolish to write-off the Germans – and surely they won’t be as bad as they were against Croatia and Austria; few nations are as dangerous in knockout football. This is a very tough one to call, but I’ll go with my heart and pick the Portuguese to win by the odd goal.
Prediction Portugal 2-1 Germany
Who you got? Let me know…