Euro Cup 2012: Portugal vs Spain- Semi-final Preview
Donetsk: 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 centre-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 line-up 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 team-mates and Clasico rivals from Barcelona on the opposition side.
This generation of Spain players are coming off an effective quarter-final win over France and looking to add this tournament to their trophy cabinet after Euro 2008 and World Cup 2010, but a majority of the media have been unimpressed, labelling 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 utilised 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 have put out the same starting for all four of their matches at the tournament so far.
• Cristiano Ronaldo (pictured, right) 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 have 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 were 4-0 victors in a November 2010 friendly, just a few months after Spain eliminated them from the World Cup by a 1-0 scoreline.
• Spain have 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 quarter-final came on his 100th cap for his country.
• Spain have the best defence at Euro 2012 so far, shipping just one goal, and not conceding for the last 299 minutes.
• Vicente del Bosque`s squad seem to enjoy late drama. Five of their eight goals at Euro 2012 have come during the final 30 minutes of matches.