Cristiano eases Portugal past the CzechsPosted: June 21, 2012
“Big smiles and good music,” Cristiano Ronaldo said of how he felt of his side’s quarter final victory over Czech Republic. How could Portugal feel any different, after their total domination of a poor Czech Republic team, who somehow managed to con their way out of Group A at Russia and Poland’s expense?
The truth is, Portugal didn’t have the hardest evening’s work to do. They’ve already played and will soon play harder games in Euro 2012, with total thanks to the sheer lack of ambition from the Czechs. With only two shots all game, and both off-target, it’s no surprise that that Portugal are the ones who advance into the semifinal.
In the first half though, things seemed relatively even. It was a drab affair, and a somewhat unexciting contest. It was as though both teams started off trying to suss each other out, but never got out of that conservative, cautious mentality. In the latter stages of the half though, Portugal began to assert their dominance.
Cristiano Ronaldo was very unlucky not to score after another beautiful touch and turn, similar to what he displayed in the last game vs Netherlands. His quick shot came off the post and away to safety. Elsewhere as the half grew on, Raul Meireles, somewhat anonymous in previous games, came to prominence in the middle of the park. He started to create chances for his side with some sublime passing, including one excellent curling pass to need Nani through, and another over the top of the Czech defence to Ronaldo.
But what was this Portugal pressure and assertive play met with? A backlash of attack from the team that spent so long under the cosh? Of course not. Czech Republic had no answers to anything, and without Petr Cech in goal they would have conceded a lot earlier than they did. The goalkeeper, despite some torrid moments this tournament so far, had a good game against Portugal, keeping plenty of efforts out when called upon.
One would think that a team so pitiful going forward against a much stronger outfit like tonight would at least be well drilled and organised in defence, no? Michal Bilek’s men were unable to fit even this description. Far too often and too easily were Portugal able to open them up and strike an attempt on Cech. From the wings and from the centre, they were second best all over the park.
Cristiano has started on the left hand side of the wing/attack this whole tournament, but one key move for Portugal was him being given a less restricted, freer role in the attack line (or even possibly him taking the liberty of wandering around the forward area himself.) The Real Madrid star began to cut into the middle a lot more when the second half began, and this caused a lot of problems for the Czech defenders, not being able to cope with his clever movement.
It was the Ronaldo that Real Madrid fans are used to seeing, but the Portugal fans missed in their games vs Germany and Denmark. Should he reproduce his good form into the semifinal, he will no doubt give the Spanish/French defence a lot to think about.