Spain's Euro 2012
semi-final against Portugal will almost certainly hinge on how
effectively the holders manage to shackle a familiar foe.
Portuguese captain Cristiano Ronaldo is a Real Madrid team-mate of Spain players like Iker Casillas, Xabi Alonso and Sergio
Ramos and a bitter La Liga rival of their Barcelona contingent
including Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Cesc Fabregas.
Joint top scorer at the tournament with three goals, Ronaldo
typically operates down the left, where he will be looking to
get the better of another Real colleague Alvaro Arbeloa, the
He would never admit it publicly but there is probably
little Ronaldo would enjoy more - apart from getting one over on
nemesis Lionel Messi - than being the man who sends the world
and European champions packing in Donetsk on Wednesday.
Portugal have insisted they are not a one-man team and in
Nani they have another dangerous forward, a fact acknowledged by
Alonso, who netted both goals in Spain's 2-0 quarter-final win
against France on Saturday.
"Portugal have forwards who can cause problems for us and
above all the two wingers Cristiano and Nani are superb
players," Alonso, who made his 100th international appearance
against France, told reporters.
"We know Cristiano perfectly and he has been playing at an
incredible level all season at Real Madrid," added the
30-year-old former Liverpool player.
"But the important thing is to focus on ourselves and make
sure we are playing at our optimum level."
The Spanish players are also familiar with two of Portugal's
defenders, centre back Pepe and left-back Fabio Coentrao, who
both play for Real.
"They also know how to close ranks in defence and they are
very solid," Alonso said.
"Maybe before the game there will be a warmer greeting than
usual because he's your club team-mate but in the end you are
going to be fighting your own corner," he added.
"Ultimately everyone is fighting for their own goals."
If Spain get past Portugal they will meet either Germany,
whom they beat 1-0 in the 2008 European Championship final and
who are already through to the last four, or the winners of
Sunday's remaining quarter-final between England and Italy.
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