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Wednesday, 27 June 2012 11:33

Three reasons why Portugal will defeat Spain

Selecção's usual game plan perfectly suited to counter Spanish machine

Hino.jpgFollowing on from PortuGOAL's tactical preview of tonight's semi-final, Vasco Mota Pereira brings us three alternative reasons why Portugal will prevail against Spain.
 

The first of the semi-finals of Euro 2012 pits Portugal against Spain, a definitive regional clash of styles and longstanding grudges. Portugal replies to Spain's tiki-taka and smothering control of the tempo and ball with dogged defending and quick breakaways. In fact, if you are able and willing to overlook the previous contests between these two teams (which makes Spain look like virtual victors, with just one defeat in 7 official matches), you will see that, even taking Germany into account, the Selecção are probably the team best-equipped to beat the Spaniards. Let's find out why.

  

1. The tactical aspect. As France showed to perfection, many teams, including very good ones, opt to change their approach, dynamics, position and habits when they play Spain. It is indeed the best tribute one can pay to this team: the Spanish superiority is a given, perhaps like never before, and one must surely adapt to their style, rather than using its strengths.

This is the first issue where Paulo Bento's approach seems to pay off. Portugal will not be tempted to change a single player, for instance. The Portuguese have favoured sitting back and playing on the break from the tournament's get-go, which makes them naturally prepared for their opponent's pass-and-move game. That said, they have also showed (against Denmark, for instance) that they can pressure up front, if necessary. Moreover, despite the futility of the hype surrounding the 4-0 scoreline last time these teams met (in a friendly, lest we forget), it is still worth remembering that Paulo Bento's option back then was to play Spain at their own game (at the time): pressure up high, force Xavi and Xabi Alonso to get the ball with their backs to goal and avoid the penetrating passes.

In this regard, Portugal seem to be in luck, once again. Moutinho and Meireles are tireless workhorses, able to motor up and down the field and help their defenders, but they are also more than willing to let others shine and make the key passes that Ronaldo or Nani thrive on. Bento's men will obviously need all hands on deck, but the Portuguese coach will be comfortable knowing that his defence is getting better with every passing match and that Pepe's speed and game reading skills may just be the necessary answer to Spain's style.

 

Hugo Almeida2. Hugo Almeida. No, really. Even though he would most likely start on the bench, were it not for Postiga's injury, the hefty striker may just come in handy. Assuming that Portugal will cede possession and let Spain seize control of the game, the Selecção will need a quick out-ball. With all eyes on Ronaldo, Almeida may provide a useful focal point to keep Piqué and Sérgio Ramos busy and flick the ball over to either Ronaldo or Nani, taking advantage of Arbeloa or Jordi Alba's ventures upfield.

 

3. Ronaldo. There is no escaping the Portuguese captain. If Portugal are to defeat the World and European champions, Ronaldo will have to step up to the plate. While it is true that the rest of team will have to be at their best ever, the Real Madrid forward will most likely be in charge of providing the extra flare and instilling fear in the Spanish defence. With Hugo Almeida up front, Ronaldo will probably enjoy more space between the centre-backs and Busquets, which may just give him the necessary opportunity to score. 

by Vasco Mota Pereira
 
Vasco runs http://aboladovasco.blogspot.com/ 
and http://combinationplay.blogspot.com/, two blogs exclusively about football.

 

Comments (4)
Solid reasoning
4 Wednesday, 27 June 2012 14:48
Solid reasoning. Now all we need is the Seleccao to follow through with perfect execution to win.
CR7
3 Wednesday, 27 June 2012 14:09
CR will score in the second half you will see, this is going to be the end of Spain's football era
Forca Portugal
2 Wednesday, 27 June 2012 13:42
I actually agree with your reasons, including Almeida. While Postiga would be much better at chasing he wasn't an imposing figure up top. Almeidas size alone makes defenders drawn and stick to him. You saw just that verse the Czechs. It could provide Nani and or Cristiano a needed extra touch for a shot.

The other major reason would be for Veloso to have a great match. If he is able to fill in the gaps left by defenders and suffocate Spain, we will win.
Let's go Portugal
1 Wednesday, 27 June 2012 12:58
Agree, even though we all know that Hugo Almeida couldn't hit a cow's backside with a banjo even if his life depended on it.

I'd add that Pepe and Bruno Alves will be key against a striker-less Spain as I don't see La Roja scoring a goal if our centre backs carry on their good run of form.

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