The first game of the Euro 2012 quarterfinals are about to kickoff. Before they do, take a look at who will decide who makes it to the next round who gets sent home:
Greece: The Whole Team
Okay, it's not a single player, but Greece is following the same formula that won them the Euro in 04: a defensively committed side that's opportunistic on the break. But in order to get past the Germans they will have to play a near perfect game.
Czech Republic: Tomas Rosicky
The captain was sidelined in their final game which saw them clinch first place in the group, but before that he was phenomenal. His vision has never been questioned and they will need him to pick apart a speedy Portugal side.
Germany: Mario Gomez
The German forward scored the decisive goals against the Netherlands and Portugal and is one of the leading scorers in the tournament. The Germans should advance against Greece but will need Gomez’s scoring to beat Portugal (assuming they beat Czech Republic) in the semifinals.
Portugal: Christiano Ronaldo
Although he didn’t play to his capability in the first two games, Ronaldo certainly earned Man of the Match honors against the Netherlands in their final game. With a near hat trick, Ronaldo is hitting his finest form at the right time. The Czech Republic have a difficult task ahead of them.
Spain: Iker Casillas
Spain required timely saves from their keeper to ensure the draw against Italy and the victory against Croatia. Without him Spain might have been relying upon Italy to secure a victory rather than the other way around.
Italy: Andrea Pirlo
Pirlo has one of the goals of the tournament so far with his curling free kick against Ireland. When teams allow him time and space to play in the midfield he carves them up. Italy will have to rely on him to get past a defensive minded England side.
England: Steven Gerrard
England’s strategy seems to be sitting back and capitalizing on set pieces. There are few players in the world with Gerrard’s ability on set pieces. He set up Lescott for the goal against France and will have to do the same to help the 3 Lions defeat the Italians.
France stuttered in their final game to end their 23 unbeaten match streak. Prior to that the French scored by committee and mostly from the midfield. Between Ribery, Nasri, M’vila, Cabaye, Ben Arfa, and Menez the French have viable options. Who steps up in the knockout stages remains to be seen.