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Germany and Portugal kick off quarter finals
June 19, 2008 13:06 IST
Germany [Images] take on Portugal in Euro 2008's [Images] first quarter-final in Basel on Thursday with their preparations overshadowed by coach Joachim Loew's touchline ban and injuries to midfield pair Torsten Frings and Lukas Podolski.
Portugal, by contrast, have effectively had a week's rest since qualifying as Group A winners and coach Luiz Felipe Scolari [Images] had the luxury of resting his midfield and attack against Switzerland [Images] on Sunday in a match they lost 2-0.
Germany had to dig deep on Monday to beat co-hosts Austria 1-0 and qualify as Group B runners-up behind Croatia.
Team manager Oliver Bierhoff said on Wednesday that Germany would leave it until the last possible moment before deciding whether Frings and Podolski are fit enough to play.
Bierhoff also addressed UEFA's [Images] decision on Wednesday to ban Loew from the touchline for one match after he and Austria counterpart Josef Hickersberger were sent to the stands by the referee after a row involving the fourth official.
UEFA said Loew would be allowed to follow Thursday's match from the stands but would not have access to the dressing room, tunnel or technical area before or during the match and would not be able to contact his team.
"I hope it will make us even more motivated," Bierhoff said. "But really the players will have motivation enough just with the opportunity to reach the semi-finals of a major tournament like this one."
In Wednesday's final Group D matches, Russia [Images] secured the remaining quarter-final spot by beating Sweden 2-0 in Innsbruck and will play Netherlands in Basel on Saturday.
Group winners Spain, fielding a second-string side, beat already-eliminated 2004 champions Greece 2-1 ahead of Sunday's last eight game against world champions Italy [Images] in Vienna.
Complete Coverage: Euro 2008