Pros and cons of Euro 2008 quarterfinalists

Martin Rogers

Only seven matches are left to crown the champion of Europe now that the field has been whittled down from 16 to eight teams.

The group stage produced a series of superb matches and some shining lights, but now it all starts again for those still holding dreams of Euro 2008 glory.

Below are the keys for each quarterfinalist to go all the way and lift the trophy – and the pitfalls that could ruin the chances of overall success.


• Why they can win: The Portuguese have the best player in the world in Cristiano Ronaldo and a superb backup crew led by Deco and Joao Moutinho in midfield. Pre-tournament concerns about the defense have been silenced by the stellar play of Pepe.

• Whey they can't win: Potential disruptions are abound, with coach Luiz Felipe Scolari heading off to Chelsea and Ronaldo refusing to discuss his possible switch to Real Madrid. The off-field issues have created an uneasy aura around the Portugal camp.


• Why they can win: The Germans can never be written off. Resilience and mental strength are like gold dust for them in the later stages, and if this team is cut from the same cloth as its predecessors, it won't give up without a fight.

• Whey they can't win: The form of Joachim Loew's side in Group B was ordinary – and that's being kind. The team looked unconvincing against weak Austrian and Polish sides and was out-maneuvered by Croatia in its only real test.


• Why they can win: An impressive surge through the group stage, capped off by the win over Germany, established the Croats as genuine contenders. Luka Modric is blossoming into one of Europe's brightest young players and coach Slaven Bilic is a tactical maestro.

• Whey they can't win: They will like their chances against the Turks and wouldn't mind playing Germany again in the semis. But their backline might have serious trouble defending teams who run at them with numbers, like Portugal or Holland.


• Why they can win: The biggest factor in the Turks' favor right now is momentum, after a dramatic and thrilling comeback against the Czech Republic to secure second place in Group A. Nihat Kahveci has hit form at the right time and Croatia will be well-supported by its passionate and noisy fans.

• Whey they can't win: Realistically, the Turks probably don't have the talent to go all the way, but neither did Greece in 2004 and look what happened. Coach Fatih Terim admits his defense gives him headaches. That could be Turkey's downfall.


• Why they can win: Marco van Basten's team lit up the tournament with lopsided victories over Italy and France, and it has played the best football of the tournament. Wesley Sneijder has been just one of many stars for the Dutch, and with Arjen Robben fit again, opposing defenders will be backpedaling hurriedly.

• Whey they can't win: The prizes are not given out based on group play. Every team starts again with a clean slate, and every other team has now had a chance to get a good look at the Dutch. But does that mean opponents will be able to stop them?


• Why they can win: After a dreadful start, the Russians regrouped admirably by winning two in a row. Andrei Arshavin's return from suspension is crucial; his creativity and spirit gives Russia an extra edge.

• Whey they can't win: The quarterfinal draw has not been kind. No one wants to be playing Holland right now. For this team to get past the Dutch, Italy or Spain in the semifinals and then whoever emerges from the top half would be a lot to ask for.


• Why they can win: The Spanish have some fabulous talent at their disposal with David Villa, Fernando Torres, Andres Iniesta and David Silva all in great form in the first two group games. Spain is talented enough to go all the way, no question.

• Whey they can't win: The defense looks shaky, but the real danger is mentally if the tournament jitters that have derailed past Spanish campaigns kick in once more. For all its brilliance, this team is still capable of the occasional awful performance. One of those and it's all over.


• Why they can win: It would be just like the Italians to flirt with disaster, then embark on a deep run. The Azzurri have still not hit top gear, but they'll have a fighting chance, especially if Luca Toni starts capitalizing on his outstanding build-up play and finishes his chances.

• Whey they can't win: If Italy plays like it did against Holland or Romania, it will be heading home. Midfielders Andrea Pirlo and Gennaro Gattuso are suspended for the quarterfinals; Pirlo will be especially missed.