Czech Republic goalkeeper Petr Cech said on Monday despite Euro 2012 quarter-final opponents Portugal being viewed as favorites for tomorrow’s game he believed his team could cause an upset.
“We haven’t lost yet, of course you can beat anyone on a good day,” said the 30-year-old goalkeeper, who helped Chelsea lift the Champions League trophy last month. “We definitely have a chance to advance. It’s sport and anything can happen.”
The Czech Republic advanced as surprise Group A winners along with second-placed Greece, while Portugal came second in Group B behind Germany after beating Denmark and, in their last group game on Sunday, the Netherlands.
“They are among the world’s top 10 teams. It’s a team full of personalities and outstanding players, and they play very well. Against the Netherlands on Sunday, they were excellent up front,” Cech said. “They also have enough experienced players. The team has matured and it’s really strong.”
Cech also said he reckoned Cristiano Ronaldo, who scored twice in the 2-1 victory against the Netherlands, was one of the world’s top two players along with Lionel Messi, diplomatically declining to say which of them was better.
“He has a powerful shot, he can shoot with his left or right, he can score from any place, he’s great at heading,” Cech said.
The Czech Republic, playing their fifth straight Euro tournament, eliminated Portugal in the 1996 quarter-final on their way to the final, but they lost to the same rivals in the group stage in 2008.
“I hope that the result will be different now than in 2008,” said Cech, who has unhappy memories of the 3-1 defeat as he was in goal.
The Czech Republic prefer to recall 1996, when Karel Poborsky memorably chipped the ball over Portugal’s goalkeeper to hand his side a 1-0 win.
“We wouldn’t grumble if it happened again,” said defender Michal Kadlec, whose father Miroslav was the 1996 team’s captain.
“When we have started like this, we don’t want to end up losing in the quarter-final,” added Kadlec, whose stunning header off the line in the dying minutes of the 1-0 win over Poland saved his team from bowing out of the competition.
Cech said he hoped for at least a repeat of the 2004 edition hosted by Portugal where a flair-filled side — with him in goal — reached the semi-finals, losing to eventual winners Greece.
“We have a chance to emulate that success from Portugal. It’s enough to win one game and I believe it will be a good game for us,” Cech said.