Portugal vs. Spain will take place Wednesday in the first of the Euro 2012 semi finals, with both sides set to fight it out for a place in the final this weekend. The match kicks off at 2.45 p.m. EST and can be watched live on ESPN or online through live stream on ESPN3 (link below).
Portugal have kept the same starting line up for every game so far in Euro 2012, however, coach Paulo Bento will be unable to extend that unchanged run to five games. Striker Helder Postiga has a thigh injury and has now been ruled out of the vital game against Portugal's fiercest rivals and Iberia neighbors. It is likely that Hugo Almeida, of Besiktas, will take Postiga's place in the starting line up.
Spain on the other hand have no new injury worries after their confident, if not slightly flat, win against France. Following that 2-0 win reports came out from the Spanish camp saying the team was "drained" and reports have since claimed that Fernando Torres and Pedro could be in the starting line up for today's game.
Although Spain are undoubtedly the favorites, Portugal have one of their best teams in years, and if the match up is looked at statistically, Spain have only beaten Portugal twice in the past 54 years. Out of 12 games over that time, Spain have won twice, with six draws and four wins for Portugal. However, prior to 1948 Portugal did not beat Spain for 15 games. Also all of Portugal's wins against Spain have come on Portuguese soil. Furthermore, Portugal have never won a semi final of a major tournament overseas. So can they break that duck today?
They will be looking largely to Cristiano Ronaldo for inspiration. The Portuguese playmaker is one of the top goalscorers in European tournament history, with six goals in total' only Michel Platini (nine) and Alan Shearer (seven) have more than him. Portugal will certainly need inspiration to break down this Spanish side, who have kept eight consecutive clean sheets in the knock out stages of major tournaments; a record stemming back to World Cup 2006.
In the past Portugal have been accused of relying too heavily on Ronaldo, but that can no longer be said of this Portugal side. Spain will know this better than most; in their last encounter Portugal smashed Spain 4-0. In that 4-0 win, Ronaldo was taken off for the second half - in which Portugal scored three of their four goals.
But Spain have been as efficient as ever in Euro 2012 to date, passing teams off the park, and starving sides of possession. However, their usual flair has been somewhat missing, according to some. In their last match they were criticized for be "boring" against the French. But that will not bother them, if they can boringly defeat Portugal today they will book themselves a spot in another major tournament final, and will look to win their third consecutive major title.
Spain vs. Portugal kicks off at 2.45 p.m. EST and can be watched live on ESPN, or online through live streaming on ESPN3 by clicking HERE.