Portugal v Spain Preview

With so little distance separating these two nations, it is no surprise to see plenty of anticipation prior to this semi-final clash. It would be fair to say that Spain have tasted substantially more success than their neighbors over recent years, yet some people believe that Portugal have at least a chance of progressing to the final following an indifferent tournament for the defending champions.

There was certainly some apprehension surrounding Portugal prior to Euro 2012, with many people tipping Paolo Bento’s side for a poor campaign. A lot of people thought that the Portuguese relied on just two players and with the nation also in the group of death, little was expected. However, barring an opening day defeat to Germany, Portugal have been impressive and have looked a huge threat. It would be fair to say that Cristiano Ronaldo has struggled to replicate his domestic form for the national team in recent years, yet that is certainly not the case at the moment with the former Manchester United winger sat on a tally of three goals. Moreover, the Portuguese will be looking back to their last meeting with the Spanish, which incredibly resulted in a 4-0 victory in November 2010.

Their opponents meanwhile must be slightly worried as even though they have managed to get to this stage in the tournament, it hasn’t been without a struggle. They have looked a shadow of the side that appeared at the most recent World Cup, with the defensive approach adopted by Vicente del Bosque drawing criticism from all quarters. There have been numerous occasions where Spain have failed to play with a striker and while their football can be easy on their eye, it has lacked a degree of penetration over the last few weeks. However, despite the so-called negatives, the Spanish are clear favorites having not lost a European Championship game since 2004. Coincidently, that defeat happened to be against Portugal.

As for team news, Portugal have been dealt a huge blow for the game with Helder Postiga set to miss out with a thigh injury. However, Paolo Bento at least has a readymade replacement, with Hugo Almeida poised to come straight into the starting eleven. It’s a different story for the defending champions meanwhile, with Spain having absolutely no injury concerns. Still, following an unconvincing victory over France in the quarter-finals, there are rumors that Vincente del Bosque could enforce changes.

In terms of a prediction, our tip has to be for a Spain win. Even though del Bosque’s side have been poor by their own standards through the tournament, they still remain the team to beat and we don’t think Portugal will have enough in them to succeed. With that, our tip will be a narrow 1-0 victory for the Spanish.

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