Portugal Team Players Against Spain In First Semi Final Look
Portugal may have begun with a loss to Germany but, propelled by the inspirational Cristiano Ronaldo, look in great shape going into their third EURO semi-final in four attempts.
When Portugal arrived at their Poland training camp three weeks ago, expectation was relatively low. Without a win in three games in 2012, scoring just once in the process, they faced a tough group stage against fancied Germany, not to mention the Netherlands and Denmark. Now in a third UEFA European Championship semi-final in four attempts, there is growing belief that Paulo Bento's side can go one better than their 2004 showpiece defeat on home soil and snare a first major international trophy.
Tactics: Bento has taken stability to a new level, selecting the same starting XI in all four matches – incidentally, an identical XI to the one that played both legs of the qualifying play-off with Bosnia and Herzegovina last November. Though there will be no seventh successive game unchanged due to Hélder Postiga's thigh injury, the 4-3-3 will remain, with a central striker – most probably Hugo Almeida – flanked by Nani and Cristiano Ronaldo. "We won't change for anyone," said Bento last week.
Key man: Ronaldo has met his reputation as the tournament's highest profile player with gusto, making the difference with both goals against the Dutch and the decisive strike in the quarter-final against the Czech Republic. "He's a very complete player," said team-mate João Moutinho. "I don't think I could highlight any weak points. He's great with his head, his feet, and he's very fast." Ronaldo's partnership on the left with Real Madrid CF colleague Fábio Coentrão has been hugely important for Portugal.
EURO semi-final record:
23/06/1984 France 3-2 Portugal (aet) (Marseille)
28/06/2000 France 2-1 Portugal (gg) (Brussels)
30/06/2004 Portugal 2-1 Netherlands (Lisbon)
Euro 2012 Down To Final 4 Teams
|Portugal superfans headed to Ukraine |