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Czechs warned to give Portugal no quarter

Published: Wednesday 20 June 2012, 21.45CET
Michal Bílek has warned the Czech Republic that Portugal "will punish us" if they lose focus in Thursday's quarter-final, while Paulo Bento's birthday wish is to spread joy back home.
by Ian Holyman
from National Stadium Warsaw
Czechs warned to give Portugal no quarter
Michal Bílek wants the Czechs to learn from their mistakes ©Getty Images

Tournament statistics

Czech RepublicPortugal

Goals scored4
 
6
Total attempts37
 
81
Attempts on target20
 
35
Attempts off target17
 
46
Attempts blocked7
 
11
Attempts against woodwork0
5
Corners21
 
41
Offsides8
 
10
Yellow cards7
 
12
Red Cards0
 
0
Fouls committed74
 
91
Fouls suffered54
 
74

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Matches

21 June 2012

22 June 2012

23 June 2012

24 June 2012

 
Published: Wednesday 20 June 2012, 21.45CET

Czechs warned to give Portugal no quarter

Michal Bílek has warned the Czech Republic that Portugal "will punish us" if they lose focus in Thursday's quarter-final, while Paulo Bento's birthday wish is to spread joy back home.

Michal Bílek is determined the Czech Republic will not repeat the mistakes of their opening game of UEFA EURO 2012 when they face the formidable attacking potential of Portugal in Thursday's Warsaw quarter-final.

Bílek's debut in the dugout at a major finals ended with a 4-1 defeat by Russia, the Czech Republic's worst ever start at this level. Bílek readjusted, and was rewarded with enhanced solidity and, more significantly, back-to-back wins. With Portugal boasting a blinding array of talent going forward, the Czech coach now plans to batten down the hatches still tighter.

"We know Portugal have dangerous players in midfield and up front, such as Nani, Hélder Postiga and [Cristiano] Ronaldo. We have that in mind, and we'll adjust our tactics to be more defensive," said Bílek. "We can't play like we did against Russia. We gave them space and they punished us. Nani and Ronaldo will punish us if we do the same thing again, and we don't want to repeat the first match."

While Bílek will retain the back four that provided the platform for the 2-1 success against Greece and decisive 1-0 victory over co-hosts Poland, he is hoping Tomáš Rosický's Achilles tendon problem will have healed sufficiently to allow the creative midfielder to return. However, having secured their place in the last eight without the Arsenal FC man, Bílek has faith his squad can compensate once again.

"During qualifying we put together a team. We don't have any great stars, except for Tomáš Rosický and Petr Čech. The team spirit is excellent, and if we defeat Portugal it will be thanks to this team."

The former international midfielder also drew parallels with EURO '96, when a largely unknown Czech side beat a star-studded Portuguese lineup at the same stage of the competition. "The situation is similar. They are favourites. They have strong individuals and a strong team, but if we repeat our performances in the previous two games, we have a chance of going through."

Portugal will no doubt read more into their 3-1 win against the Czech Republic in the group stage at UEFA EURO 2008. Like their opponents, Paulo Bento's men lost their opening group match before registering back-to-back victories, and the coach wants his charges to continue in the same vein come what may.

"In adverse moments, we have to try to stay faithful to our playing style. We have to keep a cool head, stay focused and we'll see what our opponents present us with on the pitch," said Bento, who is likely to deploy the same XI he has selected for his last five competitive fixtures, despite the Czechs having enjoyed 24 hours' more rest. "I think a team that played against Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands like we did will not have any problems with their mental recovery. The physical recovery has been good too."

The squad's mood will have been further lifted by Bento, who smiled when he was serenaded by journalists on his 43rd birthday. "I will try to transform this individual happiness into a collective happiness," he said. "But my greatest wish is that this happiness will be for all the Portuguese people after the game tomorrow."

Last updated: 21/06/12 15.36CET

http://www.uefa.com/uefaeuro/news/newsid=1827257.html#czechs+sharpen+focus

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