Spain and Portugal go head-to-head in the first of two mouthwatering Euro 2012 semi-finals tonight.
Vicente del Bosque’s side start as favourites, with La Roja looking to defend the crown they won four years ago in a final against Germany in Austria and Switzerland.
The Spaniards would also complete a famous trophy treble after scooping the World Cup in South Africa two years ago, but Del Bosque is solely focused on the challenge ahead.
“We are getting ready for a semi-final. We will need to take Cristiano Ronaldo into account – he is playing an important role in worldwide football, and in Spain with Real Madrid, which means a lot.”
‘CR7’ has dominated pre-match proceedings, with much expected of the 27-year-old at the Donbass Arena tonight after his match-winning performance against the Czech Republic last week.
“Playing with Ronaldo is always a great source of satisfaction and pride,” said striker Hugo Almieda.
Manager Paulo Bento was also keen to get across the symbolic importance for Portugal ahead of tonight’s clash, insisting a win would raise morale back home.
“We are confident, that is fact. The Portuguese are going through difficult times at home, and this could be a moment of happiness.”
Elsewhere, and Italy are preparing for their semi-final with Germany on Wednesday night, having come through 120 minutes and a penalty shootout against England on Sunday.
Andrea Pirlo was the star of the show for Cesare Prandelli’s men, and will need to be on top form again when Joachim Loew’s side are put in-front of the Azzurri.