The first of the quarter finals, this was a match dominated throughout by Portugal who were frustrated all night by missed chances and the Czech defense but finally got their breakthrough through captain Cristiano Ronaldo.
Czech Republic Analysis:
Well where to begin. An unimpressive display from the Czech at both ends of the field especially up front where they failed completely to break down a resolute Portuguese defense.
- Vladimir Darida replaced Daniel Kolar up front for Michal Bilek’s men.
- Czech republic started well keeping tidy possession especially in the Portuguese half and moved the ball around well but the final ball always seemed to be lacking.
- Petr Jiracek seemed to be the only real attacking threat for the Czech throughout the match but the Wolfsburg man was tracked excellently in the first half by Coentrao and then Veloso when coach Bilek brought on Tomas Pekhart and shifted Jiracek to a more central role.
- Czech republic could never quite find their rhythm and throughout the match conceded possession to the Portuguese. Pressed into their own half for most of the match, when they did get the chance to break, the likes of Jiracek and Pilar could never quite the find the right ball into the box.
- Milan Baros had another off night and he was dealt with very well by Veloso.
- The 1 slight performer in an otherwise dismal side was left back David Limbersky. The 28 year old kept a check on Nani very well throughout the first half and although he was partly at fault for the goal in the second, the cross coming in from that flank, Limbersky was by far the Czech man of the match.
- Apart from Plasil and Baros, none of the Czech side had a pass accuracy of even 80% with the whole team managing only a mere 67% . An astonishing stat that really does sum up what was a highly unimpressive display from the Czech who go are the first team to go out at the quarter final stage.
Portugal are through to the semis to face either of France or Spain after a dominant display that saw them come away with a very impressive 62% of the possession and more importantly another goal for captain Cristiano Ronaldo that can only help his confidence.
- Paulo Bento named an unchanged 11 from the side that beat Netherlands in the final game of the group stage.
- Portugal got into a rhythm very early on and unlike the match against the Germans, where the midfield trio seemed to only be helping on the defensive side of things, both Meireles and Moutinho got forward very well here with the latter especially outstanding.
- It was though in retrospect another typical performance from the Portuguese with the ball being sprayed quickly to either of the wingers from the back in an attempt to catch out the defensive highline.
- This Portugal side, talented as though it may be still lacks an effective play maker who can become the link from defense to attack and help the side break through the middle. Forward Helder Postiga is not good enough as a linking player and has had a generally disappointing tournament so far.
- The front trio did though do what was asked of them very well when they didn’t have the ball which was to press high up the pitch. The Czech were limited to keeping possession mostly in their own half and this contributed to Portugal dominating the match by such a margin.
- The two wingers also switched their positions very well throughout the game. Ronaldo was found in the center of the park regularly with Nani shifting out to the left. This allowed the Real Madrid man to run directly at the defense and although he may not have been able to get through, Ronaldo did manage to win a handful of free kicks from this strategy.
- With the exception of the Germany game, the center back pairing of Bruno Alves and Pepe has been excellent throughout the competition and the duo were very sound yet at the back yet again breaking up attack after attack.
- This allowed Fabio Coentrao to wander forward. The left back had another excellent game and with Ronaldo, the left flank of Portugal was their best attacking threat throughout the game.
- The hamstring injury early on to front man Postiga meant an early introduction for Hugo Almeida. The latter is much better in the air and although this meant he won most aerial duels, it did make Portugal’s play too one-dimensional, with ball continually coming in from the flanks in an attempt to get a header on target and play through the middle became restricted.
- The goal itself came from a similar situation when Moutinho broke free of the Czech defense on the right hand side and put in an exquisite cross that Ronaldo powered in for the only goal of the night.
Man of the match:
An assist, a very impressive 90% passes completed (the highest in the game) and generally outstanding, Joao Moutinho was world class for Portugal and made the side tick. Too often the Portuguese have been criticized for not being able to produce a play maker to match the likes of Figo. Growing in confidence and finally getting forward again, Moutinho could be the man Paulo Bento will be so desperately looking for to be the link between defense and attack and will be a highly important figure against whoever Portugal play next, especially if it is to be the world champions, Spain.
Flop of the match:
It was always going to be a tough night for Theodor Selassie having to face one of the best players in the world right now in the face of Cristiano Ronaldo but the full back just didn’t show up to the occasion and couldn’t cope with both Ronaldo and Coentrao running at him being dribbled past time and again and unable to stop cross after cross coming in from the left hand side. With the exception of Pilar, the full back also had the lowest pass accuracy in the team at 62% and just wasn’t able to advance and make the forward runs he had been applauded for throughout the group stages.
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