Portugal and Germany get the quarterfinals underway Thursday in Basel. The Portuguese enter with a huge advantage in terms of rest. Having wrapped up Group A last Wednesday, Portugal rested the majority of their starters in a meaningless 2-0 loss to Switzerland. Germany needed a win against Austria Monday to secure advancement and arrive with only two days off.
With Lukas Podolski and Torsten Frings already banged up, conditioning will be a major concern for the Germans. One player who will have the benefit of some rest is Bastian Schweinsteiger, who was suspended for Germany's last game after picking up a red card against Croatia. Schweinsteiger scored two goals when these sides last met, a 3-1 win for Germany in the 2006 World Cup third place game.
German coach Joachim Low will watch another game from the stands after UEFA added a one-game touchline ban to his ejection Monday night. Based on what transpired against Austria, this seemes excessive. Everyone in the German camp agrees with me.
While Cristinao Ronaldo is always the focus for Portugal, the squad has seen a variety of contributors in this tournament, with their five goals coming from five different players. Midfield leader Deco, who has one of the goals, will be pitted against Michael Ballack, two players who may be wearing the same shade of Chelsea blue come August.
The venue: St. Jakob Park, Basel, Switzerland
The broadcast: ESPN, 2:45 pm ET
The prediction: Germany's campaign has looked shaky and with Portugal rested and ready, Scolari's men move on to the semis with a 2-1 win.