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Euro: Portugal vs Spain semi-final prospects

Last updated on: June 27, 2012 12:28 IST

Euro: Portugal vs Spain semi-final prospects

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Prospects for the first Euro 2012 semi-final to be played between Portugal and Spain.

SPAIN

Holders Spain are favourites given they will use all the experience they have garnered from their sensational run in the last four years with triumphs at Euro 2008 and the 2010 World Cup.

However, Vincente del Bosque's policy of starting without a striker has prompted much debate, with detractors saying their much-lauded keep-ball philosophy has now become boring.

An opening 1-1 draw with spirited Italy was followed by a 4-0 thrashing of Ireland when two-goal forward Fernando Torres was restored to the starting lineup.

A cagey 1-0 win over Croatia was matched by an even duller 2-0 quarter-final victory over France where Xabi Alonso headed in after 19 minutes. They then proceeded to pass and pass but without really threatening a second until Alonso's late penalty.



Image: Spain's Xabi Alonso (centre) celebrates with teammates Jordi Alba (right) and Sergio Ramos after scoring against France


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PORTUGAL

Cristiano Ronaldo has found form for the Portuguese after a slow start and will surely be key to their chances of upsetting their Iberian neighbours, with the Real Madrid man expected to test the Spanish defence more than the whole France team.

Portugal started with a 1-0 defeat by Germany in a difficult Group B before a 3-2 victory over Denmark which exposed defensive frailties but showed off a new determined streak, typified by substitute Silvestre Varela's 87th minute winner.

Ronaldo woke up with two goals in the 2-1 win over Netherlands and combined well with fellow wideman Nani in the 1-0 last-eight success against the Czech Republic where a plethora of chances for the 27-year-old finally brought a goal.

Lone striker Helder Postiga will miss the Spain clash through injury so Hugo Almeida is expected to step in.


Image: Cristiano Ronaldo


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PREVIOUS MEETINGS/PENALTIES

Spain and Portugal have clashed 34 times with Spain registering 16 wins and Portugal six. The Portuguese won 4-0 in their last meeting, a friendly in Lisbon two years ago, but Spain prevailed 1-0 in their last competitive encounter in the last 16 at the 2010 World Cup.

Trophyless Portugal have a good record in penalty shootouts having eliminated England that way in the quarter-finals of Euro 2004 and the 2006 World Cup.

Spain, who won every knockout match at the 2010 World Cup 1-0, have prevailed in a shootout three times and lost on penalties three times in major tournaments.



Image: Fernando Torres and Fernando Llorente


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AVERAGE ODDS

Spain to win tie 2/5, Portugal to win tie 7/4,

Spain to win tournament 8/5, Portugal to win tournament 11/2

Germany to win tournament 13/8, Italy to win tournament 11/2.

Image: Portuguese players celebrate

Tags: Portugal , Spain , Italy

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