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Portugal Vs Spain: Key Battles
Published : 27 Jun 2012 09:00:53
Alvaro Arbeloa vs Cristano Ronaldo
Arbeloa faces a monumental task of marking Real Madrid team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo in the first of the two semi- finals. Arbeloa is known for his defensive work, will need to be in fine form in order to keep the world number two at bay. Arbeloa certainly isn’t afraid of big occasions however making his full debut against Barcelona at the Nou Camp where he had the pleasure of marking Lionel Messi. He kept the winger quiet and helped Liverpool to a stunning 2-1 victory.
Xabi Alonso vs Joao Moutinho
Alonso had a steady start to the tournament being overshadowed by Andres Iniesta and Xavi but after netting twice against France, has become the second-highest scorer since Vicente Del Bosque took over. He has been a key figure for Spain as he consistently finds team-mates with his passes and possesses the ability to dictate the pace of games with ease. Moutinho has become Portugal’s most important midfielder who will be battling with Alonso on Wednesday night. He finds space and his effort/work-rate has made him one of the key performers of the competition so far. The winner of this midfield battle may just provide their side with the edge over their opponents.
Cesc Fabregas vs Pepe
Vicente Del Bosque has this new proposed way of playing without an out-and-out striker which seems to be working for Spain. Fabregas is their fake striker who will cause Pepe all sorts of problems around the box with runs and passes slipped in behind the Portugal back line. Many sides look to soak up pressure that Spain put them under and hit on the counter but most have failed with this tactic. Portugal are renowned for their ‘easy on the eye’ football but are expected to sit back and look to find Ronaldo and Nani to break on the Spanish. Fabregas is required to drop off and help out his midfielders but also remain just in front of them for the most part. This allows him to get away from his marker and gives him a ‘free role’ which he can exploit to devastating effect.