Portugal v Spain – Match Preview

Cristiano Ronaldo believes Portugal have the mental edge over Spain as they prepare to face off at the Donbass Arena for a place in the final of Euro 2012 .

The Real Madrid winger has been the standout performer for his country scoring decisive goals against Holland in the group stage and the Czech Republic in the quarter final last week to leave them just two wins away from European Championship glory.

Despite having to see off the reigning world and european champions to achieve that Ronaldo insists Paulo Bento’s men are unfazed by their opponents and are determined to bury the disappointment of losing to Greece in the 2004 final.

Ronaldo told UEFA.com: “We lost our first match and then won all the others. I think that shows the great mental capacity of this team, and it didn’t surprise me because I knew the goals would come.

“[Paulo Bento] is doing a great job, not only now but also during qualification. I think he’s done a phenomenal job. From the moment he took on the national team he has believed in the players and is getting results in the final stage.”

“I am not feeling the pressure of playing Spain or any other team because it is part of my life. I will always have responsibility but pressure? Not much.”

Cesc Fabregas admits Spain aren’t taking Portugal lightly ahead of the semi-final clash with the Barcelona midfielder pinpointing the threat Ronaldo and Nani pose from the wing having had first hand experience of facing both during his career.

Vincente Del Bosque’s men are hoping to become the first team to win three major international tournaments in a row and Fabregas believes that if they remain composed defensively they should emerge victorious but warned his teammates not to ignore the talents of Portugal’s other players.

Fabregas told marca.com: “I think they play a different system from Real Madrid, but one of Portugal’s strengths is having Ronaldo and Nani.

“If I were the coach of Portugal I would play on the counter. They can do much damage, but surely if we defend very well together we will have a good game.

“You have players like Moutinho or Meireles that hold the ball very well, and others of the quality of Veloso, so they may surprise you in many ways.”

Team News

Helder Postiga is ruled out for Portugal due to the thigh injury picked up in the last eight clash with Czech Republic meaning Hugo Almeida will start up front.

Vicente del Bosque has a a fully fit squad to choose from and may opt to start Fernando Torres and Pedro after it was claimed the Spaniards are suffering from fatigue.

Key Players

Cristiano Ronaldo

If there is anyone that can unlock the watertight Spain defence at will it’s Ronaldo. The Portugal captain has finally risen to the challenge of taking a major  tournament by the scruff of it’s neck with some inspirational performances during the last three games. Whether he can replicate it against the defending champions will determine whether Paulo Bento’s men make it to final.

Fernando Torres

A mixed bag. That is the only fitting phrase to describe the Chelsea man’s displays so far in Poland and Ukraine. It’s been a mix of the sublime and the absurd from Torres and should he start in Donetsk on Wednesday night the task of scoring the goals against a relatively weak Portugal defence to take Spain into the final will rest on his shoulders.

Prediction: 2-1