Spain's attempt to become the first team to ever repeat as Euro champions continues on Wednesday as the Iberian rivalry adds another chapter when the Spaniards face Portugal as heavy favorites.
Spain may have been accused of playing boring football throughout the tournament, but it's served them well so far. They punched their ticket into the semis by knocking off France, 2-0, in the quarterfinals. Xabi Alonso scored both goals in the match, the first on a fantastic header and the second to put the game away on a late penalty. Meanwhile, Spain continued to use the “false nine” strategy, which has kept them from a flurry of goals and earned them the “boring football” critique.
However, you can't say the strategy hasn’t been effective, as the Spaniards have outscored their opponents, 8-1, in the tournament so far. The only goal they allowed was in their opening match, a 1-1 draw versus Italy.
Spain's main objective in the semis will likely be shutting down Portugal striker Cristiano Ronaldo. He's carried Portugal into the semis, scoring three goals in their last two matches, including the game-winner versus the Czech Republic in the quarterfinals. In that game, Ronaldo capitalized on a brilliant header to give Portugal a 1-0 victory.
Two years ago Spain and Portugal clashed in the Round of 16 in the World Cup in South Africa. Thanks to a goal by David Villa, Spain won 1-0 on the way to their World Cup title.
A few months later, it was a different story. In an international friendly played in Lisbon in November 2010, Portugal routed Spain, 4-0.
If Portugal could pull off such a feat again, it would be quite an upset.