Czech Republic coach Michal Bilek says his team must stop Cristiano Ronaldo running at them or he will be "impossible" to handle.
The Czechs tackle the Portuguese on Thursday in the first of the UEFA EURO 2012 quarter-finals. Portugal are clear favourites even though it is the Czechs who come into the game as group winners and that is in no small part due to 60-goal Real Madrid man Ronaldo.
Bilek acknowledges Ronaldo's talent and subsequently says he's been planning a more defensive approach. "We'll concentrate on our own game, we know Portugal have a lot of dangerous players in midfield and forwards such as Nani, [Helger] Postiga and Ronaldo. He's an excellent player and we have that in mind and we'll adjust our tactics to be more defensive."
Some people have suggested this match will be a case of the superstar against the collective unit, but Bilek dismissed any such notions, insisting that Portugal are no one-man band. "We know that Portugal are also very compact and balanced, Ronaldo is dangerous but he's not the only dangerous player so we're not just preparing for him but also the whole Portugal team."
The man who will most be facing the Real star is little known Sloven Liberec full-back Theodor Gebre Selassie. And Bilek believes this son of an Ethiopian immigrent has what it takes to stand up to the challenge, although the coach says he will have the help of his team-mates.
his is our chance and we'll definitely fight for it tomorrow. We won't give up.
"Gebre Selassie is performing very well, he's fit and of course it's a very interesting challenge for him because Ronaldo can score 40-50 goals in one season and you have to play exceptionally to defend against him," the coach said. "But to defend well the emphasis is not just on Theo, we have to close the defence and not give him space because if Ronaldo runs at you it's impossible to stop him."
According to Czech captain Tomas Rosicky, Ronaldo scores so many goals that he is justified in not coming back to help out his defence. "He's good in attack but doesn't want to defend. If someone is on such a high level then he can afford not to help the defence and just score goals," he said.
While Ronaldo is crucial to Portugal, Rosicky is himself vital to the Czech Republic. He missed their final group game due to an inflamed Achilles tendon, but he went back to Prague to have treatment on it and trained on Wednesday. He's now hopeful he'll be able to play.
"I trained this morning, but we'll see tomorrow if I'll be in the starting line-up," he said. "We'll decide based on how my Achilles tendon reacts tomorrow. It's still open."
Rosicky was also angered by suggestions his side are minnows and underdogs not just in this match but in the overall quest for victory. "How do you decide who are the big teams? All the teams here are strong," he said. "We're all equals and it's the details that will decide who wins. There aren't five favourites or five big teams and then the rest of us.
"We're all equal. We know [Portugal] are very difficult opponents, maybe the most difficult in the EUROs," he added. "There's no doubt, but as I've said before, even against Poland we knew that we weren't the favourites, but we feel we have a chance to go through even against Portugal.
"This is our chance and we'll definitely fight for it tomorrow. We won't give up."