Portugal (Gomes 40′, Postiga 87′) 2-3 Germany (Schweinsteiger 22′, Klose 26′, Ballack 61′)
St Jakob Park
Quarterfinals, Euro 2008
Thursday 19 June 2008
Kickoff – 20:45 CET, 14:45 EST
The Germans became the first team to advance into the Semi-Finals as they defeated Portugal 3-2 in an exciting match.
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It’s time for football at its finest! In our first quarterfinal match-up, we get an intriguing clash between two elite squads and pre-tournament favorites to win it all. Not many people expected that these two teams would meet in the quarters as both teams were tipped to win their groups. However, Germany’s upset loss to Croatia ruined those best laid plans. As a result, Germany had to go all out in order to win their final group match against Austria, and in doing so, may have hurt their chances to win against the Portuguese. Leading scorer Lukas Podolski injured his calf while midfielder Torsten Frings broke a rib and are both going to be game-time decisions for the Germans.
Germany’s win against Austria seems like it was a Pyrrhic victory, especially since Portugal come into this match well-rested and fit. Portugal couldn’t have had a better time of it during that Group phase, as they won their matches against Turkey and the Czech Republic comfortably before their B-Team lost to Switzerland. Throwing out their loss to the Swiss, the Portuguese looked like one of the best teams in the tournament (along with the Netherlands and the Spainiards) and seemed to be clicking on all cylinders. Based on current form, you would expect the Portuguese to win comfortably.
But we all know that current form doesn’t mean that much. Especially when you have two teams as talented and as experienced as these two. Plus, these teams are no strangers to one another, which should also make for an exciting match. The Germans defeated the Portuguese at the 2006 World Cup, in the Consolation Match, and famously cost the Portuguese a chance at qualifying for the 1998 World Cup. The Portuguese got even at Euro 2000, though, as they defeated Germany during the Group Phase and eliminated them from the competition.
The media is playing this match up as a confrontation between Michael Ballack and Ronaldo. Each man is, undoubtedly, his respective squad’s best player. Plus, their club rivalry adds even more fizzle to the fire. However, there are plenty of other important players on both clubs that could decide this match. Deco has been playing well for Portugal and has the added incentive of auditioning for new clubs as his departure from Barcelona is all but certain. Simao and Petit are solid as can be in midfield while Carvalho continues to establish his credentials as a world-class defender. For Germany, Podolski has scored three goals so far and looks to add to that tally. Klose and Gomez look to get off the schinde, and Schweinsteiger looks to redeem himself for that stupid red card against Croatia. And, if it goes to penalty kicks, you won’t find too many goalkeepers who are better at stopping shots than Jens Lehmann and Ricardo.
Will the Germans play up to their pre-tournament hype and win this match? Or will the Portuguese continue their recent trend of going deep into tournaments and roll past the Germans? We shall see!
Portugal: Ricardo, Bosingwa, Carvalho, Ferreria, Pepe, Petit, Deco, Simao, Ronaldo, Moutinho, Gomes (captain).
Subs: Nuno, Postiga, Meira, Miguel, Quaresma, Ribeiro, Almeida, Meireles, Alves, Nani, Veloso, PatrÃcio.
Portugal starts out in the 4-2-3-1 that’s served them so well, thus far. They don’t have a lot of size in the midfield, but they have plenty of skill and speed. Should be an interesting contrast to the size and strength of the Germans.
Germany: Lehmann, Friedrich, Mertesacker, Metzelder, Lahm, Schweinsteiger, Rolfes, Ballack (captain), Hitzlsperger, Klose, Podolski.
Subs: Frings, Kuranyi, Neuville, Odonkor, Enke, Fritz, Westermann, Trochowski, Borowski, Adler, Jansen, Gomez.
The Germans start out with their usual 4-4-2. Podolski gets the start, but might not go the full 90. Gomez, who, right now, probably couldn’t score if they doubled the size of the goal and pulled the goal keeper, might see action if Podolski has to come out. Rolfes replaces the injured Frings while Hitzlsperger gets the start in place of Fritz. Schweinsteiger gets the start, and he’s had success against Ricardo in the past. The defense is unchanged from the Austria match, although Lahm’s been exploited by both the Croatians and the Austrians.
Minute By Minute:
0′ The game hasn’t started and they’re already concerned about the quality of the pitch. Not a good sign for Portugal, who rely on their skill and speed. If this turns into a slugfest, then you’ve got to favor the Germans.
0′ Joachim Low is suspended for this match. I wonder if he’ll pull a Bobby Valentine and try and sit on the bench while wearing the funny-nose-and-glasses disguise.
0′ Here come the teams out of the tunnel. Wow, there are a lot of Germans in attendance. As a result, we get a spirited rendition of “Das Lied der Deutschen.” I guess it makes sense since we’re so close to Germany. There seem to be a lot of Portuguese in the crowd as well since we get a nice performance of “A Portuguesa.” Still, a couple of the Portuguese players were out-of-sync with the music, so we’ll give the nod to the Germans.
0′ The Germans kick off and here we go!
1′ Supposedly, the Germans think that Ricardo is vulnerable on long-range shots. As such, starting Hitzlsperger and Schweinsteiger makes sense.
2′ Podolski is cautioned for a foul on Simao. At least they didn’t give him a card. It’s way too early for that.
3′ Germans give the ball away, and it finds its way to Ronaldo. Not good if you’re a German. Ronaldo’s off to the races, but his shot is easily handled by Lehmann.
5′ Both teams are still feeling each other out. The Germans seem to be having trouble keeping possession once they get close to the Portuguese box.
6′ Deco flicks it to Gomes and it’s deep in the German box. Lehmann comes out, though, and gets to it first.
7′ Ballack is fouled outside the box. It’s about 37 meters or so and is probably out of range for Ballack. Hitzlsperger takes it instead, and it’s deflected out for a German throw-in.
9′ Simao tries some trickery on the right flank. Lahm isn’t impressed, though. Back the other way, and Hitzlsperger tries a long-range shot that hits the side of the net.
10′ Simao sends it to Bosingwa, who whips a nice cross into the box towards Gomes. Gomes can’t connect, though. Good chance for the Portuguese.
11′ Friedrich tries to cross it into the box, but Carvalho gets to it. Shaky clearance, though, and the Germans have another chance. Metzelder loses it and tries to get the ref to bail him out by clutching his face and rolling around on the pitch in agony. Unfortunately for the Germans, Metzelder isn’t that good of an actor.
13′ Ballack leads the break and sends it to Rolfe. Rolfe gives it to Klose on the left wing, but the big striker mishandles it and loses possession. Klose hits the deck and looks for the foul, but no help from the refs. What’s with all the diving from the Germans? When did the Germans turn into the Portuguese?
14′ Deco springs Simao and Simao blows by Metzelder. Simao goes for goal, but Lehmann makes the save at the near post.
15′ Ronaldo gets a touch and goes down outside the box. He demands a foul and pouts when he doesn’t get it. Whew! That’s a reassuring sight! All is right in the world.
17′ Schweinsteiger schools Ferreria twice on the left flank and his cross is deflected out for a corner. Germans come up empty on the corner as Ballack’s header goes over the crossbar. Germans still can’t score on a corner. I guess it wasn’t just Frings.
18′ Gomes with a great through-ball to Ronaldo. Metzelder is there and he sends it out for the corner. Ronaldo, to his credit, does not dive in the box to try and draw the penalty.
19′ Whoa! Close call as Bosingwa whips in a great cross to Moutinho, who is one-on-one with the keeper. His shot goes just over the crossbar and Germany’s dodged a major bullet. Moutinho looked like he wasn’t ready for it and used his knee when he should have headed it instead.
22′ GOAL! Podolski blows by Bosingwa and delivers a beautiful cross into the box for the sliding Schweinsteiger. That’s how you finish. Unsung hero on that play? Ballack saw that Bosingwa was out of position and he played a beautiful one-two with Podolski to set up his cross. Ballack’s play won’t show up on the score sheet, but it was just as important as anything else that happened.
23′ Moutinho is down after a challenge on Ballack. Here come the medics. He’s fine, though.
26′ GOAL! Deco is booked for a foul on Metzelder. The free kick is probably a good 30 meters away or so, and is a little out of Ballack’s range. Schweinsteiger takes it and he sends a nice cross into the box that Klose heads in for his first goal of the tournament. Welcome to the Euros, Miroslav. Disaster for Portugal! They looked like they were going to score first and they give up two goals in quick succession. How will they respond?
27′ Ronaldo wins a free kick deep on the left flank. Deco’s free kick is into the wall, though. They might want to switch Ronaldo to the right since Lahm’s had so many problems.
28′ Lahm concedes the corner on Deco’s cross. The corner bounces dangerously in the box before the Germans clear.
30′ Moutinho’s off and Meireles is on for Portugal. Moutinho must be injured. Great chance for Portugal on a free kick as Deco gets it but can’t get his shot off.
31′ Ronaldo with the cheeky back heel pass to Gomes. Ronaldo gets it back and he tries to cross it but it’s intercepted. Ronaldo had no one in front of him and I’m surprised he didn’t try and score. Now they show the replay of the Klose goal, and it looks like Ronaldo was marking (or rather, not marking) Klose on that play.
32′ Bosingwa, who seems to be having his way with Lahm, gets in the box but loses it out of bounds for the goal kick.
34′ Ronaldo down the left and he sends a cross into Gomes. Gomes goes down in the box and complains that he was thrown down. The refs aren’t in the mood, though. Looks like they’re letting them play.
36′ Ronaldo wins the corner, but the ensuing corner is easily intercepted by Lehmann. Lehmann’s yelling for some reason. Not sure if he’s yelling at his defenders, at the Portuguese, at the refs, at Oliver Kahn, or at Manuel Almunia. If anyone knows German, please feel free to let me know what he was saying.
38′ Ballack takes a reverse clothesline from Pepe. Now he’s rolling around as if he had been clotheslined by Hulk Hogan instead of someone named Pepe.
40′ GOAL! Ronaldo breaks into the box and he’s one-on-one with the keeper. His shot is right at Lehmann, but Gomes gets the rebound and he doesn’t miss. Ronaldo should have done better, but it worked out for the Portuguese. We have a game on our hands!
42′ Schweinsteiger’s through-ball is too strong for Podolski, and the Portuguese are on the attack. Ronaldo gets the ball, but Metzelder is there to knock it out for the throw-in.
43′ It really is a game of inches sometimes. Lehmann’s save went right to Mertesacker, but he couldn’t pull up in time. As a result, Gomes was able to get to it first and score.
44′ In the interests of fairness, Ronaldo gets absolutely mauled by Metzelder. No call, though. Should have been a booking there. Ballack then works on his future teammate, Bosingwa, and unleashes a shot on goal that forces Ricardo into the great save.
45′ We have 1 minute of added time. Ronaldo comes back the other way and gets into the box. Ronaldo makes a nifty move to create space and unleashes a shot on goal that catches Lehmann off guard. Luckily for the keeper, it’s wide of the mark. There’s the whistle and we’re at halftime.
What a game so far! Portugal had every reason to fold after giving up those two goals, but they persevered and got back into the game. Germany has done a good job handling Portugal’s speed, however it looks like Portugal is starting to assert themselves in the German box. Germany better be careful and should have some fresh legs ready to come in. After all, it only takes one defensive breakdown and the Portuguese can score like lightning.
45′ The Portuguese kick off to start the second half. Deco on the attack and he sends it to Meireles. He shoots, but it’s wide of the mark. On the replay, it looks like he slipped before he shot it. John Terry can certainly relate to that.
47′ Ugh! Friedrich fouls Ronaldo, hooks his leg, and deservedly gets a card. However, Ronaldo waits a little bit and then starts rolling around in agony, clutching his face, and screaming in pain. Well, in fairness to him, it looks like Friedrich stepped on Ronaldo’s leg as he was on the ground.
48′ Lahm leg-whips Deco and Lahm’s lucky he didn’t get sent off. It’s only a yellow, though.
50′ Another foul as Podolski runs into Simao. Meanwhile, Hitzlsperger shoots from long range and it’s well off the mark for the man called “The Hammer.”
51′ Mertesacker tries to clear it, but he slips on the pitch and hits his own man in the back. Portugal gets it back and Gomes sends in a through-ball to Deco, who beats Lehmann. But the flag is up. It’s raining now, so it will be interesting to see whether the pitch holds up.
53′ Bosingwa gets around Lahm again (why aren’t they sending Ronaldo at him?) and sends in a corner to Ronaldo in the box. Ronaldo heads the ball, but it’s wide of the mark. Ronaldo and Mertesacker, apparently, had a meeting of the minds there, as both of them are rubbing their heads and grimacing in pain.
55′ Ronaldo sends in a cross towards Gomes, but Lehmann intercepts it. One thing to think about: Goalkeepers have talked about how much they hate this ball. Now that it’s raining, so the ball will be even harder for the goalkeeper to handle. Just ask Petr Cech about that. The next goal could come from a goalkeeper’s error.
56′ Bosingwa wins a corner. On the corner, Pepe walks in unmarked and heads it over the crossbar. Close call for the Germans there.
58′ Another corner for the Portuguese. It’s low and Podolski clears it.
59′ Pepe gets a yellow for bodychecking Klose to the ground. He even led with his shoulder for good measure. Methinks Pepe was playing a different type of football there.
61′ GOAL! Schweinsteiger takes the free kick and Ballack heads it past Ricardo for the goal! Once again, the captain comes through for Germany. Ferreira was fronting him and did a terrible job marking Ballack, which is inexcusable considering the fact that they’re teammates. If anyone should know about Ballack’s heading ability, it should be Ferreira. Plus, Ricardo came off his line way too early and got hung out to dry. Portugal is getting exposed here. Big time.
65′ Nani looks ready to come on. On the replay, it looks like Ballack pushed Ferreira out of the way, so it should have been foul. Still, Ricardo didn’t do his team any favors (I guess I was right about the next goal coming on a goalkeeper’s error – sort of). Nani comes in for Gomes and Ronaldo is the new skipper.
67′ Good move to bring on Nani. He’s got speed and if Portugal is going to get back in this game, they’ll have to do it with their pace. Portugal gets a free kick and Ronaldo takes it. It’s a little far, but it’s well within his range. Ronaldo’s shot goes well wide of the mark, though. Ronaldo can do better than that.
68′ Nani with the burst of speed into the box and he beats a couple of defenders before the Germans clear it.
69′ Lahm comes back the other way and gets a decent chance. His shot is just wide, though. Deco gives it to Petit, who shoots it from long-range. The shot is on target, but lacks pace, and Lehmann handles it easily.
70′ Borowski looks ready to come on for Germany. They could probably use some fresh legs to help kill off this game.
72′ Deco with a great pass to Nani, who looks to cross it to Ronaldo. I’ve watched many Manchester United matches during the last year, and I can say that it’s a minor miracle that Nani didn’t look to shoot that himself. Meanwhile, Borowski comes in for Hitzlsperger and Portugal makes their last substitution as Postiga, the striker, comes on for Petit.
74′ Nani gets his chance from long range and he sends it over the cross bar. He had other options, but decided to go for the goal. That’s more like the Nani I know! Meireles tees it up from long distance as well. They’re just throwing everything against the wall and hoping that something sticks.
76′ Simao’s cross is too strong for Nani and it smacks him in the face, knocking him down. Deflected cross elicits some concerned gasps, but Lehmann handles it.
77′ Metzelder with the poor clearance, and it goes to Deco. Deco tries a shot, but it’s not powerful enough to beat Lehmann.
78′ Podolski wins a corner and Schweinsteiger takes it. The corner is poor as Schweinsteiger suffers a momentary bout of color blindness and sends it into a sea of red jerseys. The clearance is poor, though, and it goes to Podolski. Podolski unleashes a rocket of a shot that is just wide of the post. That would have been a great goal.
79′ Podolski comes back again and beats Pepe down the left flank. Podolski’s cross is deflected out for the corner. Just wondering something here: Why is Podolski still in there? It’s 3-1. Podolski isn’t 100%. Why not take him out?
80′ Nothing doing on the corner, and the Portuguese are on the counter attack. Simao tries to bend it in from long distance, but alas, he’s no Beckham. The Portuguese are just teeing it up from long distance without trying to build up to anything. They look like they’ve already lost.
81′ Good chance for the Portuguese as Ronaldo’s shot is blocked and it bounces to an unmarked Simao. Simao can’t judge the bounce, though, and there goes their opportunity.
82′ Schweinsteiger is off and Fritz is on. Great game for Schweinsteiger. He’s definitely earned another start.
84′ Ballack gives it to Klose in the box. Klose sends it to Fritz on the right wing. Fritz, however, shows that he hasn’t gotten his game legs under him just yet as his cross is terrible. Back the other way as Deco lifts one to Postiga. Postiga collides with Lehmann and Lehmann is down. Not surprisingly, he’s milking this one for all it’s worth. Let’s just say that the Portuguese players and the commentators are a little bit skeptical.
87′ GOAL! Nani blows by Ballack and takes on three defenders. He sends a perfect cross into the box and Postiga is there to head it past Lehmann! Wow! Don’t go anywhere just yet!
89′ Klose is off and Jansen is on for defensive purposes. Postiga gets booked for a tackle on Mertesacker.
90′ Four minutes of added time and I’m sure the Germans are not pleased about that. Well, they can thank Lehmann for some of that. Postiga is free in the box and heads it to Ronaldo. He can’t handle it though, and the Germans clear it.
90′ + 1 Nani with the long-range effort, but it’s too high. If Nani ever gets his head on straight, he’ll be one heck of player for both Man U and Portugal.
90′ + 2 Nani sends in a good cross into the box, but Postiga pushes Mertesacker down and is called for the foul.
90′ + 3 Long pass to Ronaldo, who’s open in the box. He tries to cross it, but it’s intercepted by Metzelder. Podolski then gets the ball and he runs unimpeded into the Portuguese box. He goes for goal and it’s easily saved by Ricardo. Still, he wasted plenty of time there, and the clock has almost run down.
90′ +4 There’s the whistle and the Germans are through! Congrats to the Germans for a great victory!
Well, I guess rumors of Germany’s demise were greatly exaggerated. The Germans come through with a victory over a team that many (including myself) had pegged as the Euro 2008 champions. The Germans played their best all-around game of the tournament as they finally looked explosive on offense while neutralizing Ronaldo on defense. Schweinsteiger was their X-Factor as he continues to show that he should have started in midfield from the beginning of the tournament. Ballack came up big for the Germans again, while Klose finally showed up. The German defense stood tall (both figuratively and literally) and really did a great job frustrating the Portuguese attack. Next up is either a rematch with Croatia or a match with Turkey in the Semi-Finals, both of which are winnable matches for the Germans. Maybe the Germans are starting to play up to their potential. If that’s true, then that’s a bad sign for the rest of the field.
As for Portugal, they have some work to do, but it’s not like the cupboard is bare. They have plenty of young talent and should be one of the odds-on favorites in the World Cup. They have some question marks on defense and their next coach should take a look at this tape and practice defending dead-ball situations. They could use some height in midfield and on defense, but they have plenty of skilled players who will continue to make Portugal an entertaining side to watch. Scolari is done, as he is headed to Chelsea. Meanwhile, the Cristiano Ronaldo situation should dominate the next few weeks as we’ll finally find out if he’s staying at Old Trafford or he’s going. I wonder if he’ll pull an A-Rod and announce his plans during the Euro 2008 Finals. Ultimately, the Portuguese just weren’t good enough, and they’ll have to figure out how to fix their flaws before the World Cup.
Man of the Match
Schweinsteiger energized this team and was involved in all three of Germany’s goals. After taking that stupid red card against Croatia, Schweinsteiger redeemed himself by playing a great game. The Germans were somewhat depleted in midfield, but Schweinsteiger stepped up and drove the Germans to their best offensive showing all tournament.