Euro 2012 TV Schedule: Semifinals Will Be Tourney's Best Contests

Mike ShiekmanFeatured ColumnistJune 24, 2012

KIEV, UKRAINE - JUNE 24:  Gianluigi Buffon of Italy celebrates during the UEFA EURO 2012 quarter final match between England and Italy at The Olympic Stadium on June 24, 2012 in Kiev, Ukraine.  (Photo by Scott Heavey/Getty Images)
Scott Heavey/Getty Images

Call it Midweek Madness, also known as the Euro 2012 semifinals.

On Wednesday and Thursday (both at 2:45 p.m. EST), soccer viewers will be treated to the most competitive matchups since the group stage.

This past weekend had some high drama (mostly from England-Italy PKs) but Portugal, Spain and Germany combined to outscore their opponents 7-2. Of those three, the only game decided by one goal was Portugal and they outshot the Czech Republic 20-2. Ditto for Italy, who had 20 shots on goal to England’s four, even if they needed PKs to seal the deal.

Therefore, these are clearly the four best teams right now. No controversies at Euro 2012. Move on...nothing to see here, conspiracy theorists.

Even better, the "Final Four" matchups are clashes of similar styles that will make for dramatic sequences throughout.

Take Portugal and Spain, which pits two quick passing-driving teams that aren’t afraid the threaten defenses and often. The Portuguese like to attack from the wings with Nani and Cristiano Ronaldo and make you try and contain their most talented players.

While Ronaldo may be the most skilled player on the field, Spain easily has the next five. Take your pick between Sergio Ramos, Xabi Alonso, David Silva, Fernando Torres and more. The collection of talent combined with their championship pedigree presents a tall task for opponents.

Spain came into the Euros unsure of their identity, at first playing five midfielders with Fabregas playing the deepest, even though he’s not known for his creating ability. Spain manager Vicente del Bosque figured that his team had so many gifted passers that there was no need for a striker.

Enter Fernando Torres. Now Spain can give Portugal two different looks when Torres is on or off the field. When he is on the pitch, Torres and Ronaldo will be going head-to-head for the title of "Best Goal Scorer in Europe."

Thursday, the Germans and Italians will try to top Wednesday’s match that will be a clash of two teams who like to grind out victories. 

Germany, though, has shedded its grinder label thus far and has just been pulverizing opponents, including a 4-2 victory over Greece this weekend.  They were the only team to sweep their entire group and claim the highest scoring total with nine goals in four games of tournament play. 

The Germans have been so good scoring goals this tournament that they did not even play their top scorer of the tournament, Mario Gomez, until they were up 3-1 against Greece. Now that’s offensive firepower.

The Germans will try to score on soccer’s most heralded keeper, Gianluigi Buffon of Italy, who, at 38 years old, has only given up one goal all tournament. Let’s not forget about the Italian defense giving Buffon help as well; they only managed to hold England to four shots on goal and three corner kicks for 120 minutes.

The Italians will attempt to control possession for extended periods like they did against the English (63 percent) and hope striker Mario Balotelli can bust through for a score.

Talk about fun television. Is it Wednesday yet?

Follow Mike Shiekman on Twitter @TheRealShiek