EURO 2008 - Quarter Finals

EURO 2008 - Quarter Finals
This is where EURO 2008 really starts to gets interesting.

24 matches and 57 goals later, the group stages are complete, and the knockout rounds begin. It all kicks off again tonight with the highly anticipated first Quarter Final between heavily tipped Portugal, and pre - tournament favourites Germany. Both are tournament giants. Both are capable of winning this tournament, because they have fantastic attacking teams, but their weakness? Both are defensively suspect. Who wants to call it?

The co hosts have both been knocked out, Austria only picked up a single point, but Switzerland shocked Portugal in the last group game of Group A to go out in jubilant mood. It was their first European Championship finals win of their history, no small milestone then.

Portugal themselves had put out a weakened side against the Swiss but their confidence has taken a knock and it will certainly be a clash of the titans against Germany in Basel tonight to see who will go through to the Semi Finals. Germany have blown hot and cold, finishing second in Group B but have been somewhat unconvincing, again.

The competition has provided us with some great entertainment so far. For me the Turkey v Czech match stands out as one of the greatest comebacks in modern times. Turkey were 2-0 down well into the second half and the Czech Republic team were all but booking their hotels for the Quarter Finals, when a superb goal from Arda Turan sparked a revival which Nihat completed with two goals to seal the deal, second place in Group A and a Quarter Final against Croatia.

Croatia have been some people's surprise team, but perhaps no surprise to those of us in England who saw how they provided the spoiler in the qualfying competition. Croatia are a good team, that we underestimated to our cost, and Slaven Bilic is an excellent coach that is definately one to watch. We in England knew that, to our own disappointment, as Croatia took our place in the finals and deservedly so. A outside tip for the tournament?

Holland and Spain have been the two outstanding teams of the tournament in terms of the style of their play and their demolition of the opposition. Holland won Group C with 3 wins from 3 and in some style scoring 9 goals along the way.

Spain have just been awesome in Group D, clocking up 100% wins including a 4-1 victory along the way and winning the group. Every game has been a joy to watch for supporters of those two teams. This tournament is too close to call a winner right now, but these two teams have more than impressed. Can they keep up the momentum? Who can know?

For Holland, they will come up against their compatriat on the opposition coaching bench. Russia may be another surprise team to some people, but not if you look at who is coaching them. Guus Hiddink, possibly the best manager in the world at this time.

As Russia marched on into the last 8 in this competition they began to be noticed and the Russian Revival began to take shape. They finished second in Group D with a 2-0 pummelling of Sweden in the final game with goals from Andrei Arshavin and Roman Pavlyuchenko, the scoreline did not do justice to the magificence and style of the victory the Russian's achieved.

The World Champions Italy just about scraped through in second place, and sent France home with a almost certain public enquiry to face. France had a very poor tournament. The European Champions Greece are also out, finishing with 0 points in the same Group D.

Italy will play Spain on Sunday, and unless the World Champions can step up their game it is hard to see Spain not reaching the Semi Finals. They have been brilliant so far Fernando Torres and leading tournament goalscorer David Villa is certainly receiving much attention, from scouts who want to unite the two of them at Liverpool. Many other teams around Europe will probably have their own ideas.

Anything can happen in football and the next few days will definitely reveal why we love it so much.

Thursday 19th June

in Basel

Portugal v Germany

Kick Off: 1945 BST 1245 EDT

Friday 20th June

in Vienna

Croatia v Turkey

Kick Off: 1945 BST 1245 EDT

Saturday 21st June

in Basel

Netherlands v Russia
Kick Off: 1945 BST 1245 EDT

Sunday 22nd June

in Vienna

Spain v Italy

Kick Off: 1945 BST 1245 EDT

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