It’s the semi-finals of Eurro 2012 and the first one undoubtedly is the juicier one. It pits the Portuguese led by their talisman Criistiano Ronaldo against the Spanish armada led by the affable Iker Casillas.
Around 90% (or maybe more) of the footballing world might be backing the Spaniards in this. But how would the Portuguese win?? Let's see:
1) Ronaldo - Yeah, I said it. He is the star of the side. He will be under enormous pressure to deliver and I am sure he’d be all fired up to put one over players he knows only so well. The Portuguese midfield trio of Joao Moutinho, Raul Mereiles and Miguel Veloso must keep feeding him the ball. If the likes of Alvaro Arbeloa and Sergio Busquets succeed in stifling him, the Portuguese shall suffer dramatically. Nani and Hugo Almeida need to work 5 times harder than before as it’s gonna be a tough night for them. If the team can successfully play around CR7, a victory would be much more certain.
2) Defend Like Crazy - Ok that’s a given to be honest. If you have to stop this Spain side, you gotta defend like a madman. The Portuguese defense is a pretty good one and they will have to be on their toes if they are to keep the likes of David Silva, Andres Iniesta and Cesc Fabregas etc from scoring. Pepe and Fabio Coentrao play for Real Madrid and so would be well aware of the intricacies of tiki-taka.
3) Never Give Up - Self belief is going to be the key here. Spain is known to keep 65-70 % possession. The Portuguese will need to harry the Spaniards. Mistakes will happen. Sustaining momentum is the key. Good decision making and acumen is the need of the hour. Trying to go solo when a teammate is much better placed to score is a recipe for disaster against Spain who won’t give you a lot of chances to score. It’s so important for the players to be smart in their tacking, running, shooting and passing. I can’t stress it enough.
We all can just say what comes to our minds but at the end of the day it’s up to the players to go out there and do their nation proud. Defeating Spain isn’t an impossible task. They know so. Now they must translate that into a win.
By Yashasvee Prasad