The Czech players had always said that they wanted to qualify from their group and everything else would be a welcome bonus. Having finished top of Group A, they hit the jackpot, earning a meeting with a side featuring of one of the best players in world football, Cristiano Ronaldo.
While many of his young team-mates have only been able to watch the Real Madrid CF forward on TV, Petr Čech can offer first-hand experience of Ronaldo's shooting abilities. "The last time I played against him was when he was at Manchester United," said the Chelsea FC goalkeeper.
"His shots are tremendously powerful, and can shoot with both feet. He hits the target in every situation, and is an excellent header of the ball. He's the perfectly-equipped footballer. We hope he is not going to score against us. None of us want him to succeed."
When speaking to UEFA.com, coach Michal Bílek used very similar words. "He tries to shoot from all positions with very powerful shots, which is why he's one of the best goalscorers in the world. But he is not the only good player in the team. They know how to capitalise on the space he creates for others."
However, while he may be an awesome opponent, plenty of Czech players are looking forward to grappling with a flesh-and-blood Ronaldo for the first time. "We are going to enjoy the match," said Michal Kadlec. "Portugal are favourites as Ronaldo is in an excellent form."
After answering the tweets of UEFA.com users, I asked Václav Pilař how 'The Czech Messi' is looking forward to meeting the real Ronaldo. "I always hoped we'd play Portugal in the quarter-final," Pilař replied. "Everybody is looking forward to playing against such a great player. These matches are a reward that one has to enjoy." Playing against a world superstar is something of a novelty, then, but it seems the ethos in the Czech squad will be the same: enjoy the occasion, and throw everything they can into it to succeed.
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