With only one game standing between them and the final, the four teams remaining are suddenly starting to see the glimmer of the potential trophy…
Portugal vs. Spain
Analysis: Can Cristiano Ronaldo, arguably the best player in the world, pull off the spectacular to get his team past the defending champions? That is the question keeping everyone, reporters and fans alike on the edge of their seats heading into this match. The problem for Portugal is that its performance relies so heavily on one player, and that player happens to get visibly frustrated when things are not going well.
In Portugal’s last match against the Czech Republic, where he struck the post twice, Ronaldo raised his hands up towards the sky in a manner that screamed “Why me?” If Portugal has serious hopes of winning this match, Ronaldo must keep himself composed.
You can just about guarantee Spain will have more of the possession, and patience will be sorely needed while “La Furia Roja” play keep ball. Unlike Portugal, Spain is a complete team where their superstars, Xavi, Iniesta, etc. are known for creating goals, not scoring them. Anybody for Spain is liable to score, but the same cannot be said of Portugal. Without Ronaldo’s assurgency in the past two games, the Portuguese players would probably be watching this game at home. Against Spain, Ronaldo cannot grant Portugal a victory by himself. He will need the likes of Nani (who’s been undetectable) and João Moutinho to play their best game possible. Ultimately, Spain is the more quality team, with a stronger defense and midfield. They made a French side, with creative engineers as Ribèry and Nasri, appear invisible. Although Portugal’s defense has played well, the likes of Pepe and Bruno Alves will not be enough to stop the Spanish game of pinball. Though the Iberian clash is sure to be a heated and competitive battle, I am confident that Spain will claim its spot in the European final for the second time in a row.
Germany vs. Italy
Analysis: Although the Germans are the favorites heading into their campaign against Italy, I believe they will face their toughest match against a strong Italian side. The argument can be made that Germany has been the most impressive team of Euro 2012. Despite drawing the most challenging of groups, Germany not only advanced without losing a match, but the team won every single one. Thus, it is no surprise many are sure we are to see a rematch of last year’s European finals between Spain and Germany. However, I am not one of those people. Germany’s last match against Greece was a joke. Although the Greeks scored two goals in their 4-2 loss to the Germans, they never really posed a threat. While most feel the easy match and longer rest will provide Germany with the advantage, I believe it will hinder them. Even though most fans of the NFL cannot stand the “other football”, they will agree that resting a hot team or taking it easy is not the formula for success.
Italy will be coming off an emotional victory against England, where they dominated the entire game, holding 64% of the possession and putting an impressive 20 shots on goal. Though Italy had to gut out the win in penalties, they played by far their best match of the tournament and were goalless purely on bad luck. While they will be tired, you can rest assured that the veteran Azurri will bring their A-game. Italy has shown their skill both in the match against England and in their noteworthy 1-1 tie against Spain in the group stage. But the key factor that may tilt the match Italy’s way will be German midfielder’s Bastian Schweinsteiger’s health. If he is unable to go due to a lingering ankle injury, or is hobbled by it throughout the game, Germany will suffer greatly in midfield play. Without Schweinsteiger, Germany will most likely struggle to have an answer for “Il Maestro”, Italy’s Andrea Pirlo. This result is incredibly difficult to predict, as both teams are evenly matched. With that being said I do believe Italy ekes this one out with a compact and technical showing.