Spain midfielder Cesc Fabregas has compared the Euro 2012 semi-final against Portugal with ‘El Clasico’.
The clashes between Real Madrid and Barcelona are seen as a highlight in the world football calendar, with La Liga’s big two producing classic encounters on a regular basis.
And Fabregas, who has spent much of this summer’s tournament up-front in a ‘false nine’ position, believes the meeting in Wednesday night will be just as tough as the Spanish domestic dust-up.
"You can liken and compare [the semi-final] to Real Madrid versus Barcelona in terms of the respective styles of the teams," Fabregas told The Sun.
"Portugal are one of the strongest teams. They defend well and are lethal on the counter. They're similar to Real Madrid and we must be at the top of our game.
"But there are different players and we also have players from many teams so it'll not be the same."
Both Madrid and Portugal have Cristiano Ronaldo in their ranks, a potential ‘x factor’ against any opponent if the 27-year-old is on form.
The former Manchester United star will come up against a host of Barcelona players in Donetsk – including Fabregas, Gerard Pique, Xavi and Andres Iniesta – as well as a number of Los Blancos teammates, such as Iker Casillas and Sergio Ramos.
For Fabregas and Spain, it’s more about playing to the best of their ability rather than worrying what the opposition can do, as the World and European Champions chase a unique treble in international football.
"Four years ago, when we won in the quarter-finals, [defeating Italy on penalties] we were all together jumping up and down in the middle of the pitch celebrating,” added the 25-year-old.
"We were saluting the fans and our families, we felt the joy of a brutal success when we beat Italy. And now it seems like it was an obligation, something normal.
"But these are the wins that we have to evaluate the most inside us because they are so tough. We've won a Euro and a World Cup and now we're already back in the semi-finals. It's enormous."
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