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Euro 2012: Portugal v Spain

Portugal v Spain, 19:45

Iberia will hold its breath as the two best sides produced by that region in recent memory meet in a European Championship semi-final, which is a pretty big deal for Portugal at least. The Spanish superstars may have forgotten what it’s like to be nervous, but you can bet there will be a fair few men in maroon (?) wondering if they may need a change of shorts before the game is up. History also waits to be made, with Spain looking to become the first side ever to win three consecutive international tournaments.

For Portugal this game could be a tactical challenge due to the fact they’ve been very effective on the break, and catching Spain on the break is not easy. Rarely do you get the ball with enough space to engineer a situation when playing the Spanish side, and if you manage to make it past the first line of defence you’ll be chasing back with some very quick players on your tail. Add to that the main Portuguese weapon is club-mates with Sergio Ramos and Iker Casillas and you realise this could be a long evening for Paulo Bento’s men.

The main worry for Vicente Del Bosque is probably focus, with the Real Madrid v Barcelona rivalry having the potential to cause friction on the pitch, which is not conducive to good football. If Spain can maintain their focus, and more importantly the ball they will have huge advantage, although it may be equally as important to keep the best attackers away from Pepe. The Real and Portugal defender has a tendency to just kick people if he can’t beat them at football, and Spain would hate an injury for Xavi or Iniesta to ruin their tournament.

Portugal striker Helder Postiga is ruled out with a thigh injury, which could be a blessing in disguise given his poor performances, and he’ll probably be replaced by Hugo Almeida. Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque reported no new injury problems following victory against France, but may make changes following claims the Spanish camp are “drained”. I quite like the look of Paddy Power’s 9/1 on a 2-1 Spain win, but anything can happen, as we know.

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