Spain’s win over France was straightforward and suggested they may well be over the stuttering form shown against Italy and Croatia in the group stages.
We have seen in the last four years how relentless La Roja can be when firing on all cylinders and almost nobody can stop them.
Cristiano Ronaldo stands in their way on Wednesday evening, and the Portugal captain could be the only man capable of preventing Vicente Del Bosque’s side from making history.
No nation has retained a European Championship title, but the Spaniards look as likely to do it as anyone has in a long time.
Paulo Bento’s team are not the most efficient – they are the only team left in the competition to have more shots off target than on – and their attacking instincts seem subdued a lot of the time.
However, they are a solid defensive unit with Pepe and Bruno Alves at the heart of the defence and they have good distributers of the ball in Joao Moutinho and Fabio Coentrao.
The man who has made the difference in their last two games was Ronaldo and he will need to be at the top of his game if Portugal have any hope of toppling their Iberian neighbours.
Providing a solid base for their star man must be the Portuguese priority when in the first semi-final, otherwise they will come unstuck as most other teams have in the recent past.
Spain will undoubtedly dominate possession, but ‘CR7’ is not a man who requires the ball all the time for him to make the difference.
Germany have been touted by many as the team who can end Spain’s domination, but, despite being a very impressive side, they may not be able to deal with the way in which they will have to chase the ball if the two meet in the final.
Teams’ fear of the Germans has been growing for the past couple of years and this has led to it being the norm for opponents to back off Joachim Loew’s side through fear of being unpicked at the back.
Germany will have no choice but to cede territory in the face of Spanish possession because, while they have a number of talented players, the reigning champions are pass-masters and you cannot beat them at that game.
Portugal need only try to get the ball to their talisman fairly regularly, but Bento’s normally cautious approach could prove a problem.
Ronaldo’s prominent role in Real Madrid's ousting of Barcelona in the race for the Primera Division title will help his country to counteract the football Spain play, inspired greatly by the Catalan club’s ‘tiki-taka’.
Portugal will have to be realistic going into the clash and accept that the team game will be won by their opponents, but they must do all they can to allow Ronaldo to influence the game.
Spain are the most efficient side with the ball and provide a daunting task for all who face them, but Cristiano Ronaldo has the star quality to outshine them – he is the only one who can stop them.
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