The clash between Iberian neighbours Portugal and Spain will be a tight one.
The clash between Iberian neighbours Portugal and Spain will be a tight one, but Spain are certainly the favourites to make it through to a second successive European Championship final.
Spain struggled slightly in their opening match, a 1-1 draw against Italy, although they were certainly hampered by not starting an out-and-out striker.
A 4-0 thrashing of the Republic of Ireland saw Fernando Torres net twice, although he has had little opportunity to add to his tally since then.
The 2-0 defeat over France saw Torres again relegated to the bench, and some of their attacking play suffered as a result.
No-one would argue that Spain play attractive passing football, but they need to be more aggressive in the final third and ask more questions of the opposition’s goalkeeper.
Although Torres has not had the best of times in England following his £50m move to Chelsea, he is still an internationally-proven goalscorer, and would provide the Spanish with more of a cutting-edge going forward.
And the reigning European and World champions will be desperate to progress to yet another final, especially as they are facing a bitter rival in neighbours Portugal.
The Portuguese started poorly, suffering a 1-0 defeat at the hands of fellow semi-finalists Germany, before edging a tight encounter with Denmark 3-2, despite a Nicklas Bendtner double.
And a 2-1 victory over the Netherlands saw them progress to the quarter-finals with talisman and skipper Cristiano Ronaldo finally off the mark in the tournament following a classy brace.
Their quarter-final win over the Czech Republic showed how dominant they can be, with Ronaldo scoring a powerful header to seal their qualification – a match in which Portugal had 20 shots on goal, compared to just two from the Czechs.
Spain will provide a totally different proposition however. Whereas Portugal could dominate the Czechs for long periods, the shoe will be on the other foot in the first semi-final of Euro 2012.
On average this tournament, the Spanish have enjoyed over 68% possession, compared to Portugal’s 46%.
Possession obviously does not equate to goals, but the likelihood is that Spain will be able to create more chances than their rivals.
The main Portuguese threat will come in the shape of Ronaldo, who will be facing a number of his Real Madrid team-mates this evening.
It is just a question of which Ronaldo turns up. The Ronaldo who starts sulking when his side are up against it, or the Ronaldo who netted 60 times for Real last season, and can turn a match in a matter of seconds.
Despite Ronaldo’s presence, I feel that the Spanish will have too much for Portugal, and over the course of a game their possession should takes its toll on their opposition.
If Torres starts then Spain will have more of an attacking threat, but even without him they should find their way past a Portuguese defence which has conceded four times this tournament.
Spain have not conceded in the knockout stages of a major international tournament since 2006, and have only conceded once in the group stages so far in Euro 2012.
The stage is set for another Spanish final against the Germans.
Score prediction: Spain 2-0 Portugal
Link to www.absoluteradio.co.uk/euro2012.
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