As we build up to the first semi-final between Spain, and Portugal at the Donetsk Arena Wednesday night all the talk is about Real Madrid striker Cristiano Ronaldo, and how the Spanish will have to rely on teamwork to quieten the Portuguese Captain who has scored three goals in the tournament so far having already, having scored 46 goals for his club side in 38 league games.
Real Madrid teammate Xavi Alonso has confirmed that Spain will not adjust their normal game plan for Ronaldo saying: “We always play with the same idea whoever the opponent,” he insisted.
“In this case, we will analyse Cristiano’s game and there may be small adjustments but we will try to play as a team because that’s the best way to stop a player.” With Spanish team coach Del Bosque refusing to play an all-out striker, and referring to recent games as being “not so good” and “draining “when referring to Spain’s last two games Alonso says: “Whatever people say I don’t think we are going to change. I am pretty sure that most of the fans are enjoying great football games and great football teams.”
While Ronaldo will always remain a threat the Spanish will do all they can to stop him having too much time on the ball.
Meanwhile Ronaldo is claiming that Portugal are ready to claim their place in the final having had an extra two days rest over the Spanish before their semi-final meeting on Wednesday saying: “Three days’ rest is more than enough.
“The Spaniards claimed having two fewer days is a disadvantage but, as a professional, I believe it’s not an important fact.” Ronaldo desperate to wipe away the memories of Portugal’s loss to Greece in the final four years ago is determined to go home this time with a trophy.
He said: “I don’t feel pressure playing against Spain. These games are part of my life.
“I have spent 10 years playing these type of games for club and country and I have to be accustomed to it.
“I feel responsibility, yes. But pressure, no. It’s beautiful for Portugal to be able to reach another final, it will be difficult but we are only one step away.
“We have done great work to get here not only in the finals but also in the qualifiers.”
He later added: “It will be a tough battle and we will have to play brilliantly to win.”
My verdict is that Spain will play as they have so far, by dominating possession with Xavi controlling the midfield with Inesta looking to slip the ball through around the box. Portugal will be dangerous with runs from Ronaldo, and Nani on the wings, but unless they can score early I see Spain making it to the final.
My prediction is Spain to win by one goal 2-1