Euro 2012 Semifinals: Preview and Predictions
The final is within reach. Euro 2012 is down to four teams, and in two more days, those four will become two. Portugal and Spain will contest the first semifinal on Wednesday, followed by Germany and Italy on Thursday.
Keep reading for team news and predictions for both semifinals. You might be surprised by one of the picks.
Ronaldo Not Feeling Pressure
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Cristiano Ronaldo has impressed with three goals in his last two matches.
With his Portugal set to face Iberian neighbors Spain in the semifinals, Euro 2012's most famous superstar said he's not feeling any pressure.
Here's what Ronaldo said, per BBC Sport: "These games are part of my life. I have to be used to them. Responsibility yes; pressure no."
Del Bosque: Spain Drained
Spain manager Vicente del Bosque says his team is "drained" (via Goal.com).
La Roja will have two fewer days of rest compared to Portugal before Wednesday's semifinal. Up to and including the quarterfinal victory over France, Spain had played four matches in 13 days.
Del Bosque said: "We have two fewer days to rest than them. It is a small handicap. I am thinking about this problem. We have arrived very drained because the heat we suffered tonight was cruel on the players."
Schweinsteiger Declared Fit
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German midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger is ready for Thursday's semifinal against Italy.
Schweinsteiger, 27, sat out some training activities over the weekend after suffering a recurrence of his lingering ankle problem. The holding midfielder, however, is expected to start against the Azzurri.
Germany manager Joachim Löw said this about Schweinsteiger (per The Guardian): "Schweinsteiger had problems, but it's not as if these were hindering him. Against Greece he was poor, but he realises that himself. Against Italy that won't happen."
Prediction: Portugal vs. Spain
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Details: Wednesday, 2:45 p.m. Eastern, Donbass Arena, Donetsk
It's Spanish tiki-taka against the superstar Cristiano Ronaldo (and his more-than-capable supporting cast).
Spain routinely pass opponents into submission with their vaunted possession game, but as yet, La Roja haven't faced a player of Cristiano Ronaldo's caliber.
For all of Spain's possession, their opponents are usually able to create at least a chance or two per match. If there's any player who can capitalize on a single chance, it's Ronaldo.
That's not to say he'll definitely score and Portugal will definitely pull off the upset. But the Portuguese superstar is Europe's best player for a reason, and he should never be counted out.
What's more, Portugal's entire squad is playing well right now. So…
Pick: Upset special. Cristiano Ronaldo bags the winner that further cements his legend, and Pepe turns in an epic defensive performance. 1-0 Portugal.
Prediction: Germany vs. Italy
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Details: Thursday, 2:45 p.m. Eastern, Stadion Narodowy, Warsaw
What? Two upsets? Don't count on it.
Italy will have only three days to recover from 120 minutes and a penalty shootout against England. That will hurt. (As mentioned, Spain will have the same three-day preparation period and will also suffer.)
Andrea Pirlo will still impress in the midfield, and the strikers might even remember how to shoot.
But the Germans just have too much offense, dodgy defense and all.
Against Greece, Mesut Ozil finally started playing to the level he's worthy of, and Joachim Löw has approximately 57 different options—all lethal—for his attacking slots.
No matter who he chooses, it will be the right decision.
Pick: Surprisingly easy for Die Mannschaft. 2-0 Germany.