With Portugal easing past the Czechs on Thursday, today we move on to the second quarter-final of Euro 2012 with the Germans and Greeks facing off to see who can [insert austerity joke here] and who will [insert bailout joke here] to make sure that [insert Euro/€ pun here] before [insert rioting joke here]. Either that or to determine who faces Italy or England in the semi-finals.
Czech Republic 0, Portugal 1
POR: Ronaldo 79'
Portugal took twenty shots to the Czech Republic's two. They had eleven corners to their six. They hit the woodwork twice and ended the day with 56% possession despite being down in that category at the halfway point of the first half. And then Ronaldo scored. Which means that he must have single-handedly put on a masterclass, the kind of performance that will go down in history with the greatest of all time and reignites the debate over just who the world's greatest player is. At least that's what happened if you go by most of what was said by pundits and presenters immediately following Portugal's late win.
The reality was, not surprisingly, a somewhat different matter, with Coentrao and Nani constantly dangerous in the wide areas while Moutinho, Veloso, and Meireles all had strong showings in midfield. The midfield trio in particular deserves commendation, tirelessly smothering the Czechs and providing late runs in support of Ronaldo, Postiga, and Hugo Almeida. None of which should take away from what was a top performance by Ronaldo, who just barely missed an early chance to put his country up after a sublime turn in front of goal and later grazed the post from a free kick before finally giving Portugal the goal that takes them to the semi-finals. But it should be remembered that while Ronaldo may be the star of the show, in their own less showy ways there were at least three or four other Portuguese players with legitimate claims to being man of the match, and had the entire Portuguese strike force been sharper in front of goal there would have been little need for late heroics.
Germany v. Greece
Friday 7:45PM BST/2:45PM EST
Did you hear Greece just elected a new government that wants to stay in the European Union when everybody expected something else entirely to happen? That's sort of like how everybody expected them to drop out of the European Championships but then they went and did what nobody expected by beating the favoured Russians and now they're still in the Euros and the Euro. Which means that now they're facing the Germans—in football, that is, not politics—the country many would consider the most influential member of the European Union and also favourites at the Eruopean Championships. Plus pretty much everybody expects the German National Team to hammer at the Greeks with Ozil and Gomez and Schweinsteiger like the German Chancellor hammered at the Greeks about austerity and financial responsibility and all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
And if we can all stop making bad jokes and constructing tenuous parallels for a few minutes on Friday evening, there might even be a football match in Gdansk. The Greeks will rightly be heavy underdogs, and despite shutting out Russia, the Group A runners-up have hardly been the defensive powerhouses that shocked everybody by winning the Euros in 2004. With Georgios Samaras in exceptionally poor form, Dimitris Salpingidis and Giorgos Karagounis are Greece's most likely attacking threat—though neither has looked consistently dangerous in front of goal at the Euros.
While a win for the Greeks isn't a complete impossibility, they are in all likelihood the least favoured side in the knockout rounds, and a glance at the stacked Germans is enough to see why. From goalkeeper Manuel Neuer to defenders Philipp Lahm and Mats Hummels, midfielders Sami Khedira, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Tomas Muller, and Mesut Ozil, and striker Mario Gomez, they have players all over the pitch who are amongst the best in the entire tournament. Perhaps the Greeks can rediscover something of the form and defensive surety that saw them victorious in 2004. Or perhaps a controversial decision or unlikely bounce will go their way. Realistically, though, this seems the end of the line for them. Perhaps if it didn't, more would be inclined to focus on the team they have rather than trying to figure out something that rhymes with bailout.
You've probably noticed by now that this doesn't quite look like the same Liverpool Offside you saw yesterday, and mostly that's because it isn't quite the same Liverpool Offside you saw yesterday. Hopefully in the transition we'll manage to keep what made the old place worth visiting while improving on some of the stuff that didn't work quite as well—but we'll have time to talk about all of that in a bit more detail once today's game is out of the way. In the meantime, for commenters both old and new, we hope you'll sign up for the SBNation comment system so that we can get back to making bad austerity jokes and saying how much we dislike Christiano Ronaldo as a community.