We have reached the semifinal stage of Euro Cup 2012.
All in all I think that the teams remaining deserve their place in the Semifinal.
I do feel a slight sense of disappointment that England didn’t advance to face the Germans. However, using history as our guide we should have expected England to bow out of the tournament at this stage anyway.
England’s form was hard to watch against Italy, and they really weren’t in the match at all. Italy had nearly all of the possession and basically dominated a defensive-minded England squad from the opening whistle. Italy should have won the game in regulation, and it was only right to see them advance via the penalty shootout.
Portugal and Spain dominated their respective Quarterfinal matches even though the score may not have suggested that.
Portugal always looked to be the more attacking side. When Ronaldo scored on his header late in the second half, it was a just reward for creative ball movement and effort in pushing men forward.
Spain controlled the midfield the entire game and France couldn’t retain any sort of possession. Spain’s methodical approach proved to be very effective against a France side which showed little to no fight for most of the game. France’s coach Laurent Blanc was too late in adjusting and France couldn’t get a foothold in the midfield or the attacking third.
So today, soccer fans will get an all Iberian Semifinal in Portugal vs Spain, and on Thursday it will be Germany vs Italy.
Below are the Semifinal Matchups with keys to victory for each team:
Portugal vs Spain
- June 27 – 2:45 est (ESPN)
Portugal keys to victory:
1. Control the amount of possession that Spain has in the midfield.
Portugal can’t let Iniesta have time on the ball and distribute to the likes of Torres and Fabregas. There must be pressure on the ball by whomever is assigned to mark Iniesta.
2. The counter attack for Portugal will be critical.
France couldn’t take advantage of this, but then again France doesn’t have Ronaldo. Ronaldo has been sensational in the last couple of games and if Portugal is going to defeat Spain this trend must continue.
Spain keys to victory:
1. Continue the domination of the midfield.
Iniesta has had all day to make decisions, and he has been lethal. Spain is content to hold and possess the ball for 90 minutes and try to win 1-0. Spain hasn’t been playing with a true striker for much of the tournament, and if they continue to be successful at their game plan they won’t need to change that.
2. Contain Cristiano Ronaldo … a task that is nearly impossible.
Portugal lacks much creativity beyond Ronaldo with the exception of maybe Nani. If Spain can figure out how to frustrate Ronaldo they should have no problems reaching their third consecutive major tournament final.
Prediction – Portugal 2 Spain 1
Germany vs Italy
- June 28 – 2:45 est (ESPN)
Germany keys to victory:
1. Continuing to play their attacking style.
Germany is an extremely deep team and can afford to take chances and put constant pressure on their opponents.
2. Apply high pressure on Italy’s star midfielder Andrea Pirlo.
This was the approach that England tried to take but failed. Germany must put a man on Pirlo’s hip for the entire game, and if they succeed in doing this Germany will make the Finals.
Italy keys to victory:
1. Play like they belong.
I feel that Italy has snuck into the Semifinals. That being said, they are here and must play their best game of the tournament to advance.
The Italians will need to be strong in the air against this German side. On crosses and set pieces Italy must win the ball and find an outlet to Pirlo to start a counter.
2. Italy will need to withstand Germany’s offensive bursts.
Germany at times during the Quarterfinal matchup with Greece seemed to simply out-power and dominate them. Even though the game was tied at 1-1, there was no real doubt that Germany would get in going and score. Italy just can’t set up camp in their 18-yard box and hope to win. There will need to be a push back from the Italians.
Prediction – Germany 2 Italy 0
The Semifinals are now upon us and the tournament is drawing to a close. These two Semifinals should provide soccer fans with two entertaining contests.