Germany clinically finished off Portugal in the first quarter final last night. The way Podolski, Schweinsteiger, Ballack and Lahm kept the attack going one after the other was absorbing stuff. Portugal were completely outplayed in the first half with superb work from Podolski and clinical finishing from Bastian. The second goal was a set-piece which Klose headed in with the entire Portugal defence looking on helpless. Cristiano Ronaldo had a match to forget and I wonder if he or Bastian are being heralded as the best in world football. Ronaldo once again did not shine in a big match.
Felipe Scolari in his last assignment with Portugal would have loved to get into the semifinal atleast but was left complaining to the referee about Ballack pushing Paulo Ferreira before heading in the third goal for the Germans. The Germans yet again look Champion-stuff in the final run-in. They will play the winner of Croatia-Turkey in the semifinal.
The Croatia-Turkey match proves to be a match between equals. Though Turkey are without a few key players due to injury and suspension, their attitude will be up there amongst the best. Croatia on the other hand are brimming in confidence and have a fantastic team spirit which will drive them forward. I predict the Croatians to advance and meet the Germans in the semifinal.
The third quarterfinal will prove to be possibly the best match in this stage. Two teams that drive forward and are also good in counter-attacks will play each other. The Dutch have so far been the team of the tournament with their attacking flair and very quick counter-attacks. The Russians on the other hand are the fittest of the lot under Guus Hiddink’s able eyes. He has moulded a very young team into one of the best attacking teams of Europe and in Andrei Arshavin they have one of the most skillful playmakers in this edition of Euro 2008. I just wish they were not playing so early in the knockout stage. I would not want to predict who would win this one.
The last quarterfinal will see the World champions Italy and the underachievers Spain playing for a semifinal spot. Spain is a team in form but a team like Italy can gather enough momentum to go to the very end of this tournament. This match I hope will live upto the expectations. I would want Spain to win this one.