It will be the most difficult match of the tournament so far and Ronaldo will be an important factor in Spain vs Portugal euro 2012 semifinal match. Here is schedule and preview
Is it Ronaldo versus Xabi or Portugal versus Spain? This question would be answered on Wednesday when the two teams meet in the first semi final of the Euro 2012 at the Donbass Arena in Donetsk.
It is the same arena where the defending champion Spain defeated France by 2-0 on Sunday in the last league match the Spaniards played. In fact both Portugal and Spain won its all three league matches in its group. Famous as La Roja Furia the Spaniards would be hoping to reach their third consecutive major tournament final following the Euro 2008 and the World Cup. If it wins today’s semi final and the final slated to be played on Sunday, Spain would be first team to retain the European Championship.
Last time the two teams met in 2010 FIFA World Cup which Spain won by a solitary goal. Although Portugal has sweet memory of beating the Spaniards by 4-0 in a friendly match that held in Lisbon.
Spain has this enviable record of never losing any semi final match of a major tournament. Portugal has a tough challenge to break the jinx of never winning against Spain on foreign soil. Out of total 37 encounters Spain has won 15 times, drawn 13 matches while losing to Portugal 9 times. Portugal coach Paulo Bento is expected to attack from both the sides. He may like to retain the same side that beat the Czechs with Helder Postiga as a change. Hugo Almeida Postiga has suffered thigh injury in the match against the Czech Republic.
Though it is a match between two Iberian rivals known for great team work but the spectators would expect much from the Portuguese captain and striker Cristiano Ronaldo and the Spaniard Xabi Alonso. Although managers of both the time claim that it is not a Ronaldo-Xabi match but the Spain coach thinks that there is a need to ‘deactivate’ Ronaldo.
In the last match against France it was Xabi who gave the Spaniards in the 19th minute with a great header. Then it was a penalty spot kick and Xabi again scored comfortably. So, even if it this game goes to penalty shootout Spain have the confidence which the English team failed to show against Italy in the last quarter final match at Euro 2012.
Spain coach Vicente del Bosque has said that the Real Madrid midfielder Xabi is an exceptional player who is very good at attack. Jordi Alba would be another player to watch who team up with Xabi very well. del Bosque would also be heavily relying on Iniesta who according to the Spain coach ‘makes life very uncomfortable for the opposition defence’.
Reigning World Champion Spain is known for toil hard in the field and score whenever the opportunity comes. del Bosque says that getting tired is normal. He wanted his players to get rest as much as possible after the France game. In the match against France it got just one cross and Xabi scored on it. France coach Laurent Blanc rued this fact. Blanc has praised the ‘double threat’ Jordi Alba and Iniesta as very good on the left.
On the other hand Cristiano Ronaldo after the initial unsuccessfulness is running with golden touch. He scored against the Czech Republic in the dying moments of the match with a stunning header. He has scored three times in four games. This Real Madrid star would be facing many teams of the Spanish club including Xabi and others.
Spain vs Portugal
Stadium: Donbass Arena – Donetsk, Ukraine
Date: Wednesday, June 27
Time: 2:45 p.m. ET
Stadium: National Stadium – Warsaw, Poland
Date: Thursday, June 28
Time: 2:45 p.m. ET
Germany vs. Italiy