FC Daily: Portugal, Ronaldo vs. Poland, Lewandowski in Euro 2016 quarterfinal
It's Thursday, June 30 and Euro 2016 has reached the quarterfinal stage, with Portugal taking on Poland at the Stade Velodrome in Marseille.
Match of the day
- Poland vs. Portugal (9 p.m. CEST/3 p.m. ET, ESPN2 and WatchESPN): The quarterfinals begin with two teams that are likely looking at their "easier" side of the bracket and thinking: "Why not us?"
Poland didn't light up the scoreboard in any of their group stage matches and were lucky to survive a Swiss team via penalties in the round of 16. Meanwhile, Portugal stumbled to a third-placed finish in their group and outlasted a misfiring Croatia 1-0 in extra time in one of the least entertaining matches at the tournament so far.
Still, the winner here will be in the semifinals to play Belgium or Wales, as traditional heavyweights Italy, Germany and France slug it on the other side of the draw with Iceland. Portugal and Poland managers Fernando Santos and Adam Nawalka would have taken that scenario in a nanosecond if it was offered before the tournament began.
Three key points
1. The Lionel Messi-Cristiano Ronaldo rivalry is one to relish in the club game, but it took an interesting turn on Sunday when Argentina lost on penalties to Chile for the second straight Copa America final. Messi said immediately after the match that he was retiring from the international game. Which got us thinking, what if Ronaldo pulled the same move after this year's Euro? And if he did, Miguel Delaney asks, would he or Messi have had the better international career?
2. Our Portugal and Poland bloggers preview the match here in our 50-50 feature, with both calling for a low-scoring game. With goals at a premium and Robert Lewandowski under tight watch from the Portuguese defence, Poland may need to turn to Jakub Blaszczykowski for scoring help. ESPN FC's Raf Honigstein believes the cult hero, known to fans and teammates as Kuba, could play a crucial role in the outcome of this quarterfinal showdown.
3. And if it's goals your after on the Portugal side of the ball, of course the man in frame will be Ronaldo, with manager Fernando Santos calling on the Real Madrid man to shoot more. Ronaldo became the first player to score in four different Euro competitions when he netted a brace in a crazy 3-3 draw with Hungary. The Portuguese is sitting on eight career Euro goals, just one away from tying Michel Platini's all-time record of nine at the European Championship, so it's a safe bet he'll come out firing.
Player of the day
Enough about Ronaldo, the other megastar in this game is Robert Lewandowski. The Bayern Munich striker led the Bundesliga with 30 goals during the 2015-16 campaign -- and netted a total of 42 in all competitions -- but, except for a well-taken shootout penalty against Switzerland, Poland's No. 9 has been conspicuous by his absence so far. Nick Ames explains why Lewa has gone missing on the scoresheet in France, while suggesting that he best find his scoring boots if Poland are to have any chance of beating Portugal.
Tweet of the day
Stat of the day
Portugal are the only team to reach the quarterfinals in each of the last six European Championships. They have also advanced to the semifinals in three of the previous five Euros in 2000, 2004 and 2012.
Follow @ESPNFC on Twitter to keep up with the latest football updates.