Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Quarterfinal Previews: Game One

Portugal v. Germany

0-0: On one hand, Portugal has been one of the most fluent sides in these championships, capable of holding the ball for long periods of time. On the other hand, they have precisely two players who are above-average at defending set-pieces (to be fair, C. Ronaldo has the physical abilities to be in this group as well, I'm just not sure if he can mark somebody), which is not exactly where you want to be against the Germans, who have quite a number of players who are good in the air (assuming that Friedrich plays at right back and Schweinsteiger replaces one of Podolski/Frings, I count 7 out of 10 outfield players and a minimum of 4*).

Another problem for the Portuguese is that they don't have a particularly dominant center-forward, which they only play one of, meaning that if the Germans play smart and play defensively-oriented players at the wing midfield position, they could effectively dictate where the ball has to be played. This could possibly mask the fact that the center of the German defense, Metzelder - Mertesacker - Lehmann, has been decidedly shaky in the group stages and are eminently capable of giving up a soft goal.

If Portugal Scores First: Not completely lights out. Germany has shown an inability to break down a determined and bunkering opponent; however, Portugal lacks the physicality of the Croats or Austrians, they should concentrate on keeping on the ball and getting a second.

If Germany Scores First: Should be interesting, as Portugal will have to pour players forward and the German defense is shaky. Will depend on a great extent as to whether anybody other than Ronaldo or Deco can score.

Portugal - If I Were Doing It: Drop Nuno Gomes, play C. Ronaldo as the nominal "center forward" with Simao and Nani on the flanks. Play similarly to Manchester United, relying on possession and pressure to crack an unsettled German defense. (Although, if Portugal were truly to play like Man U, they would have to play C. Ronaldo, Nani, Simao and Quaresma in a rotating mess of wingers/attackers and have Deco and Moutinho playing out of midfield. Which would be tantamount to defensive suicide; however, it would look pretty cool.)

Germany -- If I Were Doing It: Continue with Lahm at LB, Friedrich at RB, play Fritz and Schweinsteiger as the wide players and then bring in Hitzlsperger for Frings. Drop Gomez and play Neuville (or Podolski, if available) between the midfield and Klose. Play on the counter and concentrate on overwhelming the Portuguese on set-pieces. If you go behind, move Friedrich to CB, Fritz and Lahm become wingbacks, with Ballack playing a free role.

Prediction: Portugal 2-1 Germany, with Germany getting a consolation goal in the last 10 minutes just to keep things edgy. Portuguese goals will come on a bullshit penalty and a breakaway on the counter that Ronaldo will roll into the opposite corner.

* - Ze Germans could bring out a (relatively) lightweight lineup of: Lehmann; Lahm, Mertesacker, Metzelder, Jansen; Fritz, Ballack, Frings, Podolski, Neuville, Klose -- that's still a big (no pun intended) ask for the Portuguese in terms of bodies on bodies though.

Comments on "Quarterfinal Previews: Game One"


post a comment