The knockout stages of any international tournament always throw up the contrast of emotions, tears of sadness, tears of joy, moments of brilliance, moments of madness and moments we’d rather forget. Euro 2012 shall be no different, the group stages produced some of the greatest football we’ve seen at the championships in years, it has already become the first tournament since 1980 to produce a group stage without a goalless draw, making it the first time the tournament has had group stage without a goalless draw since it was increased to 16 teams. Shocks have already been produced thus far in the tournament, the Greek came back seemingly from the dead to claim vital win over a Russia side that was almost guaranteed a place in the quarter finals. Some teams did faulter in the group stages, the Dutch never recovered from Krohn Delhi’s goal and Poland also never recovered from a poor second half display against Greece. Portugal managed to pick themselves up, as did Ronaldo, forgetting his poor display in front of goal in the 3-2 win against Denmark, scoring twice allowing Portugal to progress, condemning the Dutch to ‘death’ in the group of death. The group stage also brought about a fairy tale, Andriy Shevchenko scored twice to give the hosts a 2-1 win against Sweden. The goals have proved to be Shevchenko’s final in a international shirt. Making more of an emotional night to remember for the Ukrainians. They may have argued they could gone further, the referee waving away Ukrainian protest when England’s John Terry sliced away a goal bound effort that on the replay, was over the line. Justice for that day in Bloemfontein the England fans say.

Germany v Greece

Have Germany got a semi final bye? No don’t write the Greeks off, the feeling was the same in 2004, but hey ho they went on to win it. Although they did never face a team so tactically organised as Germany, so the odds on Greek heroics this time look bleak. However a shaky German backline coupled with a poor display from Mario Gomez could see Greece win. However its still hard topics any other than Germany, Greece having scored all of the goals by the other teams mistakes. It’s harder than rocket science to predict the assured German backline making errors.

Portugal v Czech Republic

I’m going for the Czech’s in this one, that’s if Ronaldo doesn’t turn up, then it’s Portugal. But after the Czechs suffered a 4-1 defeat to Russia on day one, Bilek has returned to the drawing board and they are looking a lot tighter in defence, they have play makers and goal scorers in Petr Jiracek and Vaclav Pilar, if they continue to perform in the same manner as they did against Greece and Poland expect the Czechs in the semi finals.

Spain v France

Difficult to call this game, Croatia matched Spain on most levels and were unlucky to lose, Ivan Rakitic went close with a header, but the reason Spain have been so successful in recent tournaments is down to their goalkeeper, Iker Casilias and he was on hand to deny Croatia on a few occasions. France, ended their 23 unbeaten run with a 2-0 defeat to Sweden. They haven’t really got going France, losing out top spot in group D to England. If their front three of Nasri, Ribery and Benzema perform against Spain they’ll have real good chance of winning, the only fear for France is. Will their shaky backline of Adil Rami and Phillipe Mexes keep out the dangerous Spain attack.

England v Italy

Two rigid systems go head to head, it’s a difficult one to call. Both have the potential
to produce class, Mario Balotelli showed his ‘tekkers’ against Ireland. While Rooney can have his moments of brilliance. The game will most definitely be tight, England will of course welcome the news that Italy defender, Giorgio Chellini will be missing for the encounter. It will also be interesting
to see who Prandelli goes with up front, Di Natale or Balotelli? Professionalism is needed in the quarter finals, so Prandelli would be foolish not to go with Di Natale, the cool headed udinese man surely has the right head on his shoulders to deliver for Italy.

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