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Ronaldo shouldn’t underestimate us – Czech Republic

Czech former footballer Antonin Panenka predicts that the Czech Republic will be able to beat Portugal on penalties, with Cristiano Ronaldo missing the vital spot-kick.

Panenka, who is famous for his legendary goal which beat Germany in the Euro 1976 final, believes the quarter-final battle on Thursday will go down to the wire.

“The game will end 1-1 and the Czech Republic will win in a penalty shoot-out, he told Portuguese website Maisfutebol.

“We Czechs are colder than the Portuguese. They are too emotional and impulsive. In a scenario like this, in a penalty shoot-out, the calmer team wins. That will be an advantage for us.

“I would say that Cristiano Ronaldo is better at free kicks than penalties. He trembles too much with penalties from what I’ve seen, but he’s under a lot of pressure.

“For him to finish a game without scoring a goal is like losing a game. If he has to take a penalty I think he’ll miss again.”

Panenka hopes to see the current incarnation of the Czech team to pull off a surprise like they did in 1976 and progress to win the title.

“It would be beautiful. We have a good team,” he said.

The famous chipped penalty came to be known in football parlance as a ‘Panenka’ and the 63-year-old reminisced his moments.

“Was it 36 years ago? I didn’t remember. People thought I was mad, but I did that many times. I did it again other times.

“I practised penalties in training every day since I was a kid, as well as free kicks and corners. They didn’t always come off well, but they nearly always did.

“Germany keeper Sepp Maier didn’t frighten me. I knew that if I scored we were champions. I decided to do it the most beautiful way so that they wouldn’t forget me 36 years later.”

Current Czech Republic defender Theodor Gebre Selassie says he’s not afraid of Ronaldo.

The 25-year-old, who recently revealed that he is poised to join Werder Bremen, has played a leading role for the Czechs.

Gebre Selassie admitted that Ronaldo is a better player than those he has faced so far, but it isn’t enough for him to acknowledge defeat.

"Every match at the Euros is hard, it does not matter who you face," he told Mlada fronta Dnes. "Perhaps facing Ronaldo will be a bit more challenging for me.

"He is one of the best in the world, but I am not afraid. I will not step onto the pitch scared because Ronaldo is there.”

"He is very fast, always trying to play one-on-one, and he creates a lot of chances."

Gebre Selassie has his vote on Lionel Messi as the best player in the world.

"I saw Ronaldo in action against Netherlands and he played well," the Slovan Liberec man stated. "But I think Messi is better.

"It is hard to compare, as they are different players. But Portugal are not just about Ronaldo."

What do you think?

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