Euro 2012: Day 13

Enter The Eliminators: Portugal 1 – 0 Czech Republic

I have a confession to make. During some of the more, shall we say, challenging of the matches I have struggled with actually remaining conscious. Some of the initial skirmishes, especially as they enter the critical 20 – 35 minute mark, have been tedium incarnate as neither side establishes a cutting edge and we retreat into some kind of footballing trench warfare. But this was the first match where I have actually lost consciousness and fallen asleep.

I just couldn’t get my head around the Czech’s gameplan. Sure in this age of the Mourinho Discipline we’ve all got used to sides sitting back and playing the defensive counterattack game, but it seems that the Czech’s never had any ambition beyond keeping the game at nil nil for long periods. Maybe there was some notion that in allowing themselves to be battered for the vast bulk of the game that they were enacting some kind of heroic football equivalent of the ‘rope a dope’. But once again the fatal flaw emerges. Sure Ali may have weathered the storm until Foreman was a broken husk of a man but he only won because he was then able to attack. The Czechs never really got that far.

Neither, for all their quality, did Portugal. They too seemed a bit hamstrung by the sense of occasion. In comparison to their demolition of the Dutch, this was a very restrained, almost subdued performance. Once again their centrepiece was Ronnie, but he was far less devastating than his previous game. Now that may have been due to the hard work of the Czech defence (and midfield), but it’s more likely that it was down to the general lackluster nature of the Portuguese team itself.

In the end it was a single goal that settled it and inevitably it was Ronnie wot won it. But there was still less gusto than previously. A semi-final with the winners of Day 15’s Spain France clash awaits.

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