Euro 2012 Semi Finals Betting Preview – Portugal v Spain

June 26th, 2012 | Posted by in Euro 2012

Down to four teams in the Euro2012 and it is Semi Final time. 1st semi final is between Portugal and Spain. GMorgan from Sportingbet Australia has our preview which is being played on Wednesday night . Check out all the Euro 2012 betting odds from a number of European, Australian and International online sports books.

Portugal v Spain – Donbass Arena, Donetsk – Wednesday 27th June 2012

Portugal vs Spain – Betting Odds from leading bookmakers and Online Sportsbooks

While he often blurs the line between supreme self-confidence and outright arrogance, it is nevertheless fortunate for Cristiano Ronaldo that he is no shrinking violet when it comes to backing himself.

The Real Madrid man is of course well used to carrying the hopes of a nation upon his shoulders, but in the build-up to Wednesday’s Semi-Final clash between Portugal and Spain, the level of expectation surrounding him has gone completely off the scale.

And little wonder given the level of his individual performance in the Quarter-Final victory over CzechRepublic.

In addition to bagging his side’s late winner with a superb diving header, he hit the post twice, carved out a hatful of gilt-edged chances for his colleagues and generally tormented the Czech side to such an extent that some of their defenders may have needed counselling on the flight back to Prague.

Given that the rest of the Portuguese side is competent without being brilliant, it was vital for the Seleccao that Ronaldo fired if they were to progress from Group B and after a slow start against Denmark, the former Manchester United man has taken flight in spectacular style.

Already a red-hot favourite to be named player of the tournament, UEFA would surely consider presenting him with the award on Wednesday if he managed to inspire his side to an upset victory over Spain.

And such a result is out of the question bearing in mind that Vicente del Bosque’s side have not been at their awe-inspiring best during this tournament to date.

They did make short work of France to reach the last four, but given the astonishing lack of ambition shown by Laurent Blanc’s side, that result didn’t do much to convince the doubters, of whom there are appear to be a growing number, especially within the Spanish media.

del Bosque again employed his controversial tactic of not fielding a single recognised striker against the French, preferring Cesc Fabregas to Fernando Torres and has been strongly tipped to opt for the same line-up again in Donetsk.

Spain do not appear to have any significant injury problems heading into the all-Iberian clash, although Alvaro Arbeloa, Jordi Alba, Fernando Torres, Javi Martinez and Xabi Alonso are all one yellow card away from suspension.

La Roja have been keen to push their full-backs further forward during this tournament, regularly switching to a cavalier 3-4-3 formation, but given that Portugal’s key avenue of attack is down the left, right-back Arbeloa may well find his attacking opportunities severely limited on this occasion.

Ronaldo’s combination with left-back Fabio Coentrao has been electrifyingly successful for the Portuguese in recent games and Arbeloa will undoubtedly need some assistance from Alonso and Sergio Busquets in order to keep the dynamic duo at bay.

Indeed, it is Portugal’s width and pace that represents their best chance of dumping their neighbours out of the competition and securing their second Euro Final appearance in the process.

If they allow Spain to slow the tempo and narrow the field, they will find themselves being passed to death as so many other teams have in the past, but if they can be quick in transition and pull either Alonso or Busquets out of the middle, they could be in business.

What may well prove Portugal’s Achilles heel yet again, however, is their lack of a predatory central striker. Hugo Almeida will fill that role on Wednesday in the absence of Helder Postiga who has been ruled out by a thigh injury, but he too seems  unlikely to be able to take full advantage of the wonderful service provided by both Ronaldo and Nani.

Portugal coach Paulo Bento has claimed he will not be making any significant alterations to his side in terms of personnel or approach in order to counter Spain’s strengths and his counterpart, del Bosque, has insisted that he intends to take the same bullish approach, teeing up what could be a feisty clash between two sides who haven’t always seen eye to eye in the past.

Spain, of course, have no shortage of big-game experience, but Portugal have now reached the Semi-Final stage at three of their last four Euro appearances and as the underdogs, have nothing to lose.

They have also been beaten only twice in the last twelve meetings between the two sides dating back to the mid-60s and claimed a thumping 4-0 friendly victory over their old foes as recently as November 2010.

There is no doubt that this Spain side has its vulnerabilities and can be beaten, but it is probably asking too much of Ronaldo to expect him to do it single-handed. The likes of Nani, Joao Moutinho and Raul Meireles have to produce world class performances if Portugal are to prevail, Almeida needs to find his shooting boots and the impressive Rui Patricio will again be required to provide some heroics in goal.

The Seleccao also need to start more brightly than they have in several of their previous tournament games, because if they concede early, no side is better at defending a lead than Spain.

Ronaldo’s stunning form, along with their overall pace, organisation and team spirit means that Portugal cannot be discounted altogether, but Spain still have room for improvement and should just get over the line.

Prediction: Portugal 1-2 Spain

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