A look at Euro 2008: Quarterfinal No. 1

And just like that, the Germans are once again through to the semifinals of the European Championships, while the highly-fancied Portuguese are out.

In case you missed it, here is a brief recap of today’s quarterfinal contest:

GERMANY 3, PORTUGAL 2: Germany blitzed Portugal through goals by Bastian Schweinsteiger and Miroslav Close within four minutes of each other midway through the first half, and the Germans played resolutely and confidently from there to book a place in the semifinals. Nuno Gomes scored five minutes before halftime to give Portugal some hope, but Michael Ballack restored Germany’s two-goal lead in the 61st minute. A second Portugal goal in the 87th minute, this time by Helder Postiga, made for an intense finish, but the Germans held on for the victory.

MY ANALYSIS: I’ve told people for weeks that I was picking Portugal to win Euro 2008, so am I surprised to see the Portuguese go out in the semifinals?
Absolutely, but on the other hand, I’m not surprised to see that it’s Germans who knock them out. Even though Germany didn’t look all that super in the group stages, I just got the feeling that the traditional powerhouse was more than capable of putting together a performance when it mattered.
That’s exactly what happened.
The Germans played with confidence from the opening whistle against Portugal, and that made all the difference in the world.
Germany’s first goal was a thing of beauty as it pinged the ball around and got a fabulous finish by Bastian Schweinsteiger on the end of it. The other two, however, were complete breakdowns by Portugal on set pieces that led to headed goals. For as much panache that Portugal possessed, poor defending put the favorites in a poor position from which they were not able to dig out of.

TODAY’S STAR MAN: Bastian Schweinsteiger, Germany. Several of Germany’s attacking players shined against Portugal, but I’ll go for Schweinsteiger. He was on hand to hammer home Germany’s first goal and played well from start to finish.

TODAY’S TOP GOAL: Bastian Schweinsteiger’s goal vs. Portugal. Was this really a German goal? Over the years, the Germans have always been criticized for not playing attractive soccer, but holy cow, that certainly wasn’t the case with the move that led to their opening goal in the quarterfinals. From the left side near midfield, Germany pings the ball around extremely well, and it’s eventually played to Lucas Podolski, who bursts down the wing. From there, he crosses the ball toward the near post, and Schweinsteiger is on hand to slam it home from close range.

Quarterfinal round
Croatia vs. Turkey, ESPN, 12:45 p.m.

For those of you who caught today’s action, what did you think of the proceedings? Any disagreements with my choice for player of the day or goal of the day?

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