German game plan for Portugal

German Football
By German Football June 19, 2008 15:53

German game plan for Portugal

Germany hope their plan to neutralise Cristiano Ronaldo when they take on Portugal in today’s quarter-final in Basle does not backfire.

Joachim Low’s side, who have progressed to the last eight of the European Championships for the first time since 1996, know their chances of reaching the semi-finals depend on whether they can stop the Manchester United winger. “We have a special plan but I cannot reveal anything,” said Oliver Bierhoff, former Germany striker and current national team general manager.

Ronaldo, who won the European Golden Shoe after becoming the continent’s top scorer this season, will lead Portugal at the St Jakob-Park Stadium. The 23-year-old made sure his team qualified for the quarter-finals as Group A winners having scored one goal and set up two more in their 3-1 triumph against the Czech Republic. To make matters worse for Germany, Ronaldo was rested in Portugal’s last group game and will be eager to add to his tally.

“Ronaldo is the best player in the world,” admitted Bierhoff. “You can never stop him for 90 minutes even though you can ask defenders and midfielders to keep a close eye on him. We can’t expect one or two players to stop him so it has to be the group as a whole that needs to confront him.”

However, Bierhoff admitted the Ronaldo factor could pose a dilemma to his players as focusing too much on the United winger could cost his team dearly. “The problem with Portugal is that they also have other top players,” said Bierhoff. “They have a great team and have an experienced coach in Luiz Felipe Scolari. They will be tough opponents but we are ready.” Germany, who will be without their coach Low as he will undergo a one-match touchline ban, must step up their game if they wish to keep their European dreams alive, according to Bierhoff.

Having lost 2-1 to Croatia, the Germans were made to suffer against Austria in their last group game before being rescued by a stunning Michael Ballack free-kick that earned them a 1-0 triumph and a second-place finish in their group.

“There’s no doubt that we have to play better than in our last two games,” admitted Bierhoff. “We showed in qualifying that we can play very good and beat the best teams but just need to prove it against a very good side. Portugal are favourites but Germany plays better when facing top teams.”

German Football
By German Football June 19, 2008 15:53
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