The Euro 2012 Crystal Ball - Semis
June 25, 2012 @ 00:00 am
The final leg, the grand culmination of the EURO 2012 is here. Here's our take on the final four teams that have a shot at taking home the trophy, this Sunday.
Spain v/s Portugal :-
These teams will be vying for a place in the finals of the Euro 2012.
The last time these two teams faced each other was in the Round of 16 in the 2010 World Cup. It ended in a 1-0 win for Spain, thanks to a great goal by David Villa. It was a low-scoring game, but it got the job done for La Furia Roja. Cristiano Ronaldo went unnoticed that game, living up to his bill as a sublime club player but a disappointing international one.
Two years have passed, and the script has flipped.
Playing against defending champions Spain at Euro 2012 has got even harder. Portugal, at least, has had an extra 48 hours to try and figure out a way of countering Spain's different systems of play.
Spain has alternated between a traditional attack led by striker Fernando Torres and a six-man midfield fronted by playmaker Cesc Fabregas, with the latter picked to start Saturday's 2-0 quarterfinal victory over France.
Spain returns to the Donbass Arena to play its Iberian neighbors in the European Championship semifinal, where the six-man midfield could well return. Coach Vicente del Bosque has tended to use the system against tougher opponents, deploying it against 2006 world champion Italy in a 1-1 draw in their Group C opener.
Spain beat Portugal 1-0 en route to its World Cup win two years ago, and the Portuguese will already have been seeking ways to disrupt Spain's game.
With all opponents changing tactics for Spain, Portugal should be no different. But that doesn't worry the favourites.
In Poland and Ukraine, Ronaldo has finally put in the performances – and goals - for his national side that have made him one of the world's top club players for years.
That comes after the Portugal captain managed just one goal in each of the last three major tournaments he's played in - the 2006 and 2010 World Cups and the 2008 European Championship.
His performances at Euro 2012 have gone a long way toward shoring up his reputation with the national team, and he could probably silence the critics for good if he leads Portugal to victory over Spain.
It would be extra sweet for Ronaldo, one of the game's top competitors, to eliminate Spain, where five of his Real Madrid teammates play, including Iker Casillas, Sergio Ramos and Xabi Alonso.
While Spain is praised for its tiki-taka football and beautiful passing game, Portugal will likely have to rely heavily on its star player, Cristiano Ronaldo. Nani, Moutinho and the rest of players are expected to give their full support.
The Real Madrid star had been criticized in the past for failing to lift his team. But for this tournament alone, he has scored thrice and in their most important games. Spain is aware of his presence and his capabilities, and they are not going to make it easy for him. Xavi, Iniesta, Fabregas, Torres and David Silva are expected to provide spark and firepower.
Head to head, Spain has more wins against Portugal. In the FIFA ranking, Spain is no.1 while Portugal is at no. 10.
Germany v/s Italy:-
Joachim Low’s high-flying Germany will take on Italy in the second semi-final of Euro 2012 on Thursday, June 28. The match will be played at the National Stadium in Warsaw and the winner will qualify for the final against either Portugal or Spain.
The DFB Eleven will be looking to avenge their defeat at the same stage in the 2006 World Cup when Fabio Grosso and Alessandro Del Piero found the net in extra-time to give Azzurri the victory.
Die Mannschaft have arguably been the best team in the European championship thus far and have won every single game in the competition. The Germans topped the ‘Group of Death’ which included the likes of Netherlands, Portugal and Denmark and won the quarter-final clash against Greece last week with a 4-2 margin to progress to the last-four stage.
Germany has been cautious in their approach this time around and has not played with the same attacking flare in this competition, which is primarily due to some of their shortcomings in defence recently. However, the side has all what it takes to win the European championship and the team, along with Spain, is favourite to lift the trophy.
Cesare Prandelli’s men are coming from a hard fought 4-2 penalty shoot-out win over England in the quarter-final. The game ended with a 0-0 score line at the end of extra-time and had to be decided on penalties.
The Italians have not performed at their full potential in Euro 2012 and were lucky to progress to the last-eight after a rather satisfactory group stage.
On Sunday, they defeated England on penalty kicks to advance to the Euro 2012 semifinals against Germany. But unless the Italians increase their offensive effort, their European Championship dreams will be shattered.
Germany and Italy will both enter their match on Thursday undefeated. The two football clubs have found success, though, in two extremely different ways.
Italy prides itself in its defense. They haven’t surrendered more than a single goal in regulation since the group stage began. On the flipside, Italy has scored just four total goals, and that’s resulted in two draws as well as forced their shootout against England.
Germany launched home four goals against Greece in the quarterfinals alone. They’re an offensive juggernaut. Only once have they failed to record multiple goals in a match.
Mario Gomez is one of only four footballers to score a trio of goals since the start of the group stage. Italy doesn’t have a single player who’s scored multiple goals. Of course, Germany has also surrendered four goals compared to Italy’s two in Euro 2012. But while the Italians have the defensive edge, if you can’t score, you can’t win…unless you force a shootout. And with a gun to your head, would you really bet on Italy shutting out the Germans?
Previous: Welcome, Wimbledon
you may also like
by Amit Trivedi
by Sachin Jigar
by Vishal Shekhar
Who would you want to see as a G.I.JOE character?