What: Euro 2012 Semi-final
Who: Portugal vs Spain
When: Wednesday 27th June, 2012, at 19:45 UK time
Where: Donbass Arena, Donetsk, Ukraine

Real Test

Meeting Spain at the penultimate stage will surely be Portugal’s biggest test so far in the 2012 European Championship. Labelled as dark horses before the competition got under way, Portugal survived a “group of death” that also comprised Germany, Holland and Denmark, while a quarter-final win over the Czech Republic entitled Paulo Bento’s men to book a meeting with La Seleccion in an Iberian thriller.

A bout with the reigning European and world champions is not a match many teams would relish. However, Seleccao captain Cristiano Ronaldo has declared that he is keeping his cool ahead of this clash, one that will see him line-up against his Real Madrid team-mates and Barcelona adversaries alike.

“There is not any special pressure just because I am facing Spain. I have been playing at the highest level for 10 years, both at club and international level. Yes, I feel responsibility, but not pressure. I am used to these matches”, said the former Sporting Lisbon starlet.

Ronaldo has carried his national side far in the competition, but it is moments he could produce here which would truly confirm his standing as a great of the modern game. He is head and shoulders above his team-mates, so carrying Portugal to the final, especially at Spain’s expense, would be the perfect ending to a wonderful season.

Sending Neighbours Home

Spain’s previous game against France was the team’s hardest test so far at Euro 2012, and given the way things have been going for the Euro 2008 winners in the competition, there was always the feeling that Les Bleus just might hand the cup holders a surprise and send them home packing. However, Laurent Blanc’s men proved to be no match for the Spanish armada, who now prepare to force another neighbouring nation to pack their bags and go home.

La Furia Roja know full well the threat that Cristiano Ronaldo will pose, but this is not pushing them towards laying out a special plan for the Portuguese winger, according to Xabi Alonso, who also dismissed recent criticism of his side.

“There is no anti-Ronaldo plan. We play always with the same idea, regardless of the opponents, although we study them beforehand”, said the Real Madrid man. “We are confident of how we play, how to partner each other, regardless of who we play. The coach gives us freedom and so far we’ve progressed and we hope this will continue.”

Recent form

Denmark 2-3 Portugal (13/06; Euro 2012)
Portugal 2-1 Holland (17/06; Euro 2012)
Czech Republic 0-1 Portugal (21/06; Euro 2012)

Spain 4-0 Ireland (14/06; Euro 2012)
Croatia 0-1 Spain (18/06; Euro 2012)
Spain 2-0 France (23/06; Euro 2012)

Players to watch

Portugal – Miguel Veloso: The Genoa man will be under a lot of pressure as he attempts to halt the flow of La Roja’s passing in the engine room. Veloso faces a mountain to climb, as his job will be very hard to accomplish and another yellow card on the night will see him miss the final – that is if Portugal manage to reach it.

Spain – Alvaro Arbeloa: The right back will be entrusted with putting the brakes on Ronaldo’s wheels on the flank. An assured defender when in form, he could frustrate the former Manchester United man into losing his cool and showing the mediocre aspect of his game. Arbeloa must improve though and his performances so far have come in for real criticism at the tournament.

Match Prediction

Portugal’s luck has been growing recently, but their journey should come to a halt when they face Spain, who harbour a plethora of world-class players in their ranks. Bento’s men will be willing to go forward, however that will leave gaps for La Roja to exploit – but Ronaldo may keep the contest close. Portugal 1-2 Spain.

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