Today’s match between Spain and Portugal in the first semifinal of Euro 2012 should be one heck of a match.
Spain is looking to become the first team to win three consecutive major tournaments, while Portugal is hoping to ride the brilliance of Cristiano Ronaldo to the finals.
After scoring only one goal in his last three international competitions, Ronaldo has found the net five times so far in this tournament, with game winners in the last two matches.
“He’s a demanding player to face, mentally and physically,” Spain’s Alvaro Arbeloa told The Guardian. “When you play against the best, people who are playing spectacularly well, it’s always tough. You know you have to be at your very best. I like to measure myself against the best players of the world and it’s a great challenge. Of course you can’t stop him for 90 minutes, but it’s a nice battle.”
If there is one team that should know how to slow Ronaldo – and which buttons to push to knock him off his game – it would have to be Spain, whose roster is filled with players from Ronaldo’s club team, Real Madrid, as well as Real’s biggest La Liga rival in Barcelona.
Plus Spain has yet to play its best game in the tournament, which they have been criticized for.
“Football is great because not everyone likes the same thing,” Andrés Iniesta told The Guardian. “Variety is nice; it’s good to have a diversity of opinions. We have a way of playing that has brought us success and for us there is no other way. Those opinions [attacking Spain] are perfectly respectable but it is true that when there is [only] one team that always wants to attack and has a rival that only wants to close off, drop deep, and avoid danger, of course the football is not as attractive as when both teams want to win and open up to attack each other.
“Let’s not forget that we changed Spanish football two years ago. And let’s not forget how we did it.”
As for Ronaldo, he says it’s all good.
“I am not feeling the pressure of playing Spain or any other team because it is part of my life,” he told The Daily Mail. “I will always have responsibility but pressure? Not much.”
We’ve been along for the ride with Spain since the start of the last World Cup and we see no need to hop off now.