It’s time to determine the first Euro 2012 finalist, it will be either the world #1 ranked team from Spain, or their neighbours from Portugal. So far both teams have been impressive, Spain winning their group and Portugal able to qualify from the group of death. Obviously at this stage, only the toughest teams remain. Let’s take a look at both in depth.
Spain have been tournament favourites ever since it started back on June 8th, not much has changed, as they are expected to make it to the final here. They played a convincing semi-final against France, however there has been a lot of talk about their unwillingness to move the ball forward. They are definitely the kings of midfield passing, but how far is that really going to get you. When they don’t start Fernando Torres, they lack scoring threats, and that was seen against France as well as Italy. The Portuguese are not going to make things easy on defense, as they proved against Germany and the Netherlands, two world-class teams. If Spain goes with the 4-3-3 formation and start Fabregas, you can expect more of the same old boring midfield passing, and not a lot of attacking.
Portugal have shown two different sides throughout this tournament. On one side, they’ve shown that they can shell up and play defense only, like they did against Germany, or they can attack and open up the game, like they did against Netherlands and Czech Republic. Either way, they will have their hands full here against Spain. If Spain is able to neutralize Ronaldo (and they’ll have to), then Portugal is finished. Ronaldo is finally having the international tournament that he should, and in this game he’ll be lining up with his Real Madrid teammate Alvaro Arbeloa whom he knows well, and this can be an advantage for Portugal.
Spain will most likely win the midfield battles and control possession, as they always do. The game will most likely be low scoring, and potentially need extra time if neither team breaks down defensively. Look for Spain to swarm the ball in a 4-6 formation until they get it. Look for Portugal to feed Ronaldo at every chance, as he has the potential to cause major problems.
Prediction: Spain wins 1-0