Arsenal Depot

A depository for musings on Arsenal FC

Euro 2012: Rosicky’s Czechs Beaten By The Ronaldo Show

The quarter-finals started off with a pretty poor match in Warsaw yesterday. Neither team really produced any genuine quality on a consistent basis during the match, except for that man Cristiano Ronaldo who was a constant threat throughout the game. Portugal were far superior in the second half though and Ronaldo eventually got their winner with 10 minutes to go and saved the neutrals another 30 minutes of a rather dull match.

Tomas Rosicky had still not recovered from his Achilles injury and was left on the bench. His presence in the squad must have been purely for his contribution in the dressing room because even when the Czechs were losing late on in the game, he was not called into action. It’s also a worry that his injury is more serious than was initially felt. Still, it’s better for Arsenal that he did not play yesterday and cause more damage to himself.

The Czechs started brightly enough against the cautious Portuguese and had the better possession in the first 20 minutes (55%). Both Jiracek and Pilar on the flanks were involved going forward. The midfield was pressing well, led from the front by 21-year Vladimir Darida, and Gebre-Selassie on the right was tightly man-marking Cristiano Ronaldo when the Real Madrid man moved into his zone.

But as the game went on, Portugal got more into it. With Ronaldo not getting much joy down Portugal’s left, he and Nani swapped flanks at times. Ronaldo kept drifting into central areas though and almost played as a second striker as he tried to put the two Czech centre-halves under pressure. An overhead kick from inside the box was wide and he also hit the post after controlling a lovely long ball from midfield onto his chest, turning smartly and beating Cech.

Having said that, Portugal never asserted themselves in the first half. Instead of moving further up the pitch with the ball, they invariably took the direct route to the flanks or the central striker and this allowed the Czechs to get possession back, even though they were unable to maintain their initial press.

Portugal came out more positively in the second half and it was all one way traffic from there. They moved further up the pitch as a team, and the midfield of Veloso, Moutinho and Meireles took charge. Ronaldo was causing more problems with Gebre-Selassie tiring and Jiracek having moved into a more central position with the arrival of Rezek who played on the right-wing. The image below shows the domination of Bento’s side in the second period, as Portugal completed thrice the number of passes as their opponents.

Passes – Second Half

Inevitably, the goal was scored by Cristiano Ronaldo. Moutinho pulled back a good cross from the right and the Real Madrid man powered a header past Cech, a tired Gebre-Selassie not even competing for the ball. It was a fair result in the end, Portugal were certainly the better team. The Czechs can be proud of making the quarter-finals though, especially without one of their two star players missing for half the tournament.

Germany takes on Greece today and Gunners will be hoping Lukas Podolski scores again. It’s definitely going to be more one-way traffic, especially as Greece are missing captain Giorgos Karagounis who’s been vital for them in midfield. Greece will probably sit quite deep and frustrate Germany and hope their out ball to Samaras or Salpingidis can cause some uncertainty in the German back line.

Germans to win comfortably by 2-0 with Lukas Podolski scoring the opener.

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