Tonight sees the first dual clash with Czech Republic playing Turkey whilst Switzerland host Portugal. With Portugal through as Group Winners, all eyes will be on Geneva. We could potentially have a first in Group qualification with the fact that should tonight’s game end in a draw, we will go straight into a penalty shoot out to decide who finishes runners up in the group. I hope we don’t come to that and the game is completely decided before the final whistle is blown.
It’s looking more and more likely that the Czechs will revert to playing Koller and Baros together up front. This tournament has really shown just how much quality they’ve lost from midfield with the retirements of Nedved, Berger, Smicer, Poborsky and the injury to Rosicky. They’ve played a game that is based on midfielders bursting forward to link up with the front man, but the quality simply hasn’t been there.
Turkey also may look to starting the game with the team that finished the 2-1 victory that eliminated the Swiss as coach Fatih Terim looks to guide the Turks through. He made a tactically brilliant change at half time to swing the game in their favour and Terim has often been underrated as a coach, the disappointing spell as coach of AC Milan perhaps diluting his achievements at Fiorentina and Galatasaray and his first stint as national coach.
Turkey certainly looked back to their best in the second half against the Swiss and this game is make or break for both coaches. I’m going to go for a 1-0 win for the Czech Republic tonight, which will then lead them to a potential clash with Germany in the Quarter Finals.
Tonight’s other game will probably gives us a chance to see the players on the fringes of the Portuguese squad, with Queresma, Almeida and Nani expected to start. Switzerland will be playing for pride tonight but know that their opponents will have several players trying to prove to Phil Scolari that they deserve a chance of being in his first choice XI. Whilst it would be nice for the Swiss to get anything out of this, I can’t see them beating Portugal and think it could be a 3-0 defeat for the Swiss.