Portugal v Spain: Euro 2012 semi-final Preview

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Euro 2012 Semi-final; Donbass Arena, Donetsk; Wednesday, June 27; KO 1945 (BST)


Reigning champions Spain had a relatively untroubled quarter-final, coming through 2-0 winners courtesy of a Xabi Alonso header and late penalty.


Portugal, meanwhile, needed star man and captain, Cristiano Ronaldo, to rescue them once again in a tight contest with the Czech Republic.


The Real Madrid man popped up with a powerful downward header with little over ten minutes to go – he had already struck the post twice in a contest where the Czechs chose to put defending as their priority.


Helder Postiga will miss out with an injured thigh, which should give Hugo Almeida the nod to start in the central striker role, though young Nelson Oliveira has impressed people this season and manager Paulo Bento could surprise his opponents by selecting the 20-year-old form Benfica.


However, Almeida did score in the 4-0 thrashing the Portuguese handed Spain when the sides last met, a friendly in November 2010.


Vicente del Bosque will not be worried about that score, however, as his side’s record in friendlies in recent years is mixed, while they defeated Portugal 1-0 in the quarter-final stage on their way to glory in the 2012 World Cup in South Africa.


The big selection question for Spain so far has been whether to play with an orthodox striker in Fernando Torres or go with the ‘false nine’ system and start with Barcelona’s Cesc Fabregas.


Iniesta rejects boring Spain tag


Andres Iniesta has rejected claims that Spain have been boring at Euro 2012 in the way they have gone about getting to the semi-finals.


Last Saturday’s quarter-final with France was starved of much goal-mouth action, with Xabi Alonso scoring early on from a header and late on with a penalty.


Vicente del Bosque’s side dominated possession and denied France any opportunity to build up some pressure.


This led to many claiming the Spanish style was strangling the life out of games, but the Barcelona star rejected that notion and placed the blame on their opponents taking up particularly defensive approach and that the success they have been experiencing means there will be no altering this approach any time soon.


“When a team always wants to attack against an opponent who shuts up shop, football is not as attractive as when the game is open," he said.


“Our style of play has led us to success, to winning titles.”


“Football's so great because not everyone likes the same thing, we don't have to all agree on everything.


“For us, the play that we have, the way we have of doing things, is what has led us to our success, to winning titles.


“We feel identified with our style of play, and a few years ago this style changed the history of Spain for good.”

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Xabi Alonso
Fernando Torres
Cristiano Ronaldo

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