06/27/2012 07:32 am ET

Spain vs. Portugal In Euro 2012 Semifinal: Can Defending Champs Handle Ronaldo?

By Adam Scime,

The reigning champion is eager to continue the march towards history but faces a determined Seleccao bent on winning a spot in the decider for the trophy.


Rui Patricio
Pereira, Pepe, Alves, Coentrao
Moutinho, Veloso, Meireles
Nani, Almeida, Ronaldo

Arbeloa, Ramos, Pique, Alba
Busquets, Alonso
Silva, Xavi, Iniesta

Portugal and Spain renew their Iberian rivalry, with both teams coming off the back of three consecutive wins at Euro 2012 after an opening day loss to Germany and draw with Italy respectively.

Seleccao boss Paulo Bento remains confident despite the disruption of Ricardo Quaresma and Miguel Lopes coming to blows during training on Saturday, but will be forced into a change after center forward Helder Postiga suffered a thigh injury against Czech Republic, and will be replaced by either Hugo Almeida or youngster Nelson Oliveira in the starting XI.

Meanwhile, the rest of the lineup is expected to remain the same as Cristiano Ronaldo, who has three goals in his last two games, Pepe and Fabio Coentrao come up against several of their Real Madrid teammates and Clasico rivals from Barcelona on the opposition side.

This generation of Spain players are coming off an effective quarterfinal win over France and looking to add this tournament to their trophy cabinets after Euro 2008 and World Cup 2010, but a majority of the media have been unimpressed, labeling their performances "boring" so far, and questioning whether the team is up to the same standards as the last few years.

Coach Vicente del Bosque will not be swayed by the critics, though, and is likely to stick with the players and formation he has utilized in Poland and Ukraine thus far with the lone doubt coming up front.

La Roja have started Cesc Fabregas as a 'false No.9' on two occasions and gone for the more direct approach of Fernando Torres in their other two matches, with both players notching two goals at the tournament so far. However, the Chelsea star may have the slight edge in being chosen for the first XI come Wednesday night.

  • Portugal has put out the same starting for all four of its matches at the tournament so far.
  • Cristiano Ronaldo is now tied for third on the list of all-time goal scorers at European Championships with six strikes, behind just Michel Platini and Alan Shearer.
  • Paulo Bento's side has hit the post six times at the European Championship, a new record, with four of those efforts coming from Ronaldo.
  • The last time the sides met Portugal was the 4-0 victor in a November 2010 friendly, just a few months after Spain eliminated it from the World Cup by a 1-0 scoreline.
  • Spain has a positive all-time record against Portugal over 34 games (W16 D12 L6). However, La Roja have only won two of their last 12 against the Seleccao.
  • Xabi Alonso's two goals against France in the quarterfinal came on his 100th cap for his country.
  • Spain has the best defense at Euro 2012 so far, shipping just one goal, and not conceding for the last 299 minutes.
  • Vicente del Bosque's squad seems to enjoy late drama. Five of its eight goals at Euro 2012 have come during the final 30 minutes of matches.

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