Portugal v Spain, 19:45
It will have been an odd experience for Ronaldo, but for once since his move to Real Madrid the greatest European footballer is an underdog, and has only a normal amount of pressure on his shoulders.
Spain have raised a few eyebrows by suggesting they will alter their system or line-up to compensate for the greatness of CR7, and his inclusion is all that stops this match from being an expected whitewash.
Of course, there aren’t that many pundits thinking Spain will lose today, and the idea that this is Ron against the world is also a touch erroneous. Other members of the Portugal side, namely Joao Moutinho and Nani have been just as crucial to their progress, and ‘the animal’ Pepe has spent his time defending the goal rather than defacing his opponents, so there is more to them than one good striker. On the other hand, Ronaldo remains the only man at the tournament genuinely capable of scaring any defender, and can be the difference today.
For me, the Spanish maestro Andreas Iniesta is just as trilling to watch as Ron, and as capable with the ball at his feet. He may not have the tricks, but if you watch Xavi, Iniesta and Fabregas (if he gets on the pitch) you’re treated to a genuine masterclass in ball retention, and a real treat. The bench is full of talent, meaning that if this goes to extra time they can introduce more quality, and with so many of the first eleven survivors from the World Cup you wouldn’t expect nerves to be an issue particularly.
Helder Postiga is ruled out of the Portuguese team with a thigh injury, and will be replaced by Besiktas forward Hugo Almeida. Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque reported no injuries, but Fernando Torres and Pedro may be in line to start following claims the Spanish camp are “drained”. Spain are even money to win, with Portugal at 10/3 but if the 6/1 WilliamHill have on Ronaldo to score first comes off it could get very interesting.
Image Credit: azote