Soccer News: Germany, Italy, Portugal and Spain Will Compete for UEFA EURO 2012 Title
Portugal versus Spain and Germany versus Italy; these are the semifinal matches of this year’s UEFA EURO 2012 taking place on June 27 and 28. While Portugal, Germany and Spain had already made their way to the semis, Italy secured the last ticket today after a dramatic penalty shootout against England.
With Italy, Spain and Germany, three of the title’s expected contenders are still in the tournament. Only Portugal was not on the experts’ list of teams who were favored to win the title, which makes their participation quite surprising. However, Portugal’s qualification for the semifinal was not undeserved and in the end, once again, influenced by match-winning superstar Cristiano Ronaldo.
Ronaldo against Spanish Combination Champions
In the first semifinal, scheduled on June 26 at 11.45 a.m., Portugal will meet Spain in the Donbass Arena in Donetsk, Ukraine. On the Spanish side, physiotherapist Javier Miñano criticized that Spain has two days fewer than Portugal to prepare for the game and said that this would give Portugal “something of an advantage.” Most experts, however, see Spain ahead of Portugal in terms of quality and game play. Spain lately impressed not only through their unique passing game but their efficiency, defensive stability and incredibly high possession. The only question is if coach Vicente del Bosque will play with Fernando Torres or Francesc Fabregas as their nominal striker. Fabregas played the position in the last game against France but his performance was not one hundred percent satisfying.
Portugal has to find a substitute for injured striker Hélder Postiga, who scored against Denmark. Portugal coach Paulo Bento will probably replace him with Hugo Almeida on a one-to-one basis without changing Portugal’s counterattack-based tactics.
For Portugal’s superstar Cristiano Ronaldo the game is a reencounter with his team colleagues from Real Madrid, this time as his opponents. The Spanish won’t hand out any gifts, so it will depend on the individual quality of Ronaldo if he can compete against his Madrid teammates.
Can Germany Take Revenge for 2006?
Germany against Italy – that was the semifinal of the 2006 World Championship in Germany and is now the second semifinal of the EURO 2012. The defeat against Italy was one of the most disappointing moments in the recent German soccer history and ended what Germans called “The summer’s tale of 2006”. Now Italy is Germany’s opponent again and experts think that Germany will do better this time, especially after their impressive performance ending in an 4-2 victory against Greece. Even Italy Coach Cesare Prandelli said that “Germany are definitely the favorites,” not forgetting to add that this might be due to their “two more days to recover.” Italy will definitely be without right midfielder Chrisitian Maggio, who picked up a second yellow card. In addition several players like midfielder Daniele De Rossi and fullback Giorgio Chiellini are struggling with minor injuries.
German coach Joachim Löw, who surprised with three changes in the starting lineup against Greece, is likely to put Lukas Podolski and Thomas Müller back in the first eleven. However, a final decision about it hasn’t been made by Löw yet.
German captain Phillip Lahm said that he is “looking forward to a classic” and stated clearly that “the overall aim is to win the tournament.”
It will be interesting to see if Germany will rely on their offensive tactics that made them so successful in the last games, or if they will act differently against Italy’s strong defense and midfield-magician Andrea Pirlo.
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