Spain-0 (4) Portugal-0 (2)
Casillas, Ramos, Piqué, Alba, Arbeloa, Busquets, Xabi Alonso, Xavi, Iniesta, Negredo, Silva
Substitute(s): Fábregas for Negredo (54’), Navas for Silva (60’), Pedro for Xavi (87’)
Rui Patrício, Bruno Alves, Pepe, Fábio Coentrão, João Pereira, Miguel Veloso, João Moutinho, Raul Meireles, Cristiano Ronaldo, Nani, Hugo Almeida
Substitute(s): Oliveira for Almeida (81’), Custódio for Veloso (105’), Varela for Meireles (114’)
A spot in the Euro 2012 championship game is on the line here, as the two Iberian rivals go head to head in Ukraine. Spain are the favorites for this one, but Portugal have shown their potential and will have to go for it all here if they want to take down current European and World Champions. 2-0 Spain is my prediction, but as game time is just minutes away now, I feel as though, and furthermore hope that there’s more in this game than that.
Hugo Almeida is in for the injured Postiga, while Spain have a single change to the lineup that beat France in the semifinals: Negredo starts over Fábregas. They’re in more of a 4-5-1 than a 4-6-0 with his addition. National anthems are over, and the game is set to start in just moments.
1’- Kickoff! The semifinals have begun!
2’- Ronaldo against Arbeloa down the left side should be an advantage for the Portuguese, as Ronaldo will look to outpace and outplay the Spanish RB.
3’- A Portugal corner is knocked out by Casillas. The second one is collected by him. Confident play from the Spanish keeper.
4’- Portugal is doing an all important job of pressuring and getting forward early on here. As soon as Spain get comfortable in possession, Portugal will be in trouble.
6’- Portuguese defense do well against the first signs of Spanish pressure. Pepe playing well as always.
8’- A Xabi Alonso ball near the edge of the box is just barely not touched down by Silva. Good run regardless.
9’- Great lead up play, and Arbeloa has hit one over the bar from 18 yards out. Should have done better; unfortunate for Spain.
12’- Game is slowing down to Spain’s liking now.
13’- Ronaldo with a big run down the left, but his cross is collected by Casillas. Good looking play by the Real Madrid man.
16’- Ronaldo fouled just outside the box on the side. Good opportunity to cross one in, or even have a shot.
17’- Ronaldo’s shot goes right into the wall. Portugal have got a corner though.
18’- Headed away easily by Sergio Ramos, who has looked good in the back.
20’- Nani is brought down by Ramos, who has received nothing for the challenge. Should have at least been a free kick in my mind.
21’- Portugal will like how the game is going right now. They’re doing very well in the midfield and getting forward. Spain haven’t gotten settled yet.
24’- Ronaldo with a wild shot with his left over the bar. Portugal are definitely looking the better side right now.
26’- Nani doing well to get forward, but it comes to nothing.
27’- Portugal are looking like they believe they can do this. Spain are being outplayed on all parts of the pitch. Spain have only had one solid chance in almost half an hour here.
29’- Iniesta almost made me eat my words there. His curling shot goes just over the bar. Spain will like to use that to get them going in the last 15 minutes of the half here.
31’- Ronaldo has his shot go just wide of the right post. Casillas probably had it covered regardless. Goal kick.
34’- Spain will need to make some changes at halftime in my opinion. Something about the pace of the game and overall initiative will need to be altered. They’ll be happy if this gets to halftime 0-0.
36’- Nani down for an injury. Looked like a knock to the head. I think he’ll be ok; a chance for the players to get some rest.
37’- Play resumes…
39’- Silva gets a run forward, but his pass comes to nothing. Disappointing again from Spain. They only have one shot on target.
40’- Ramos has been given a yellow for obstructing a Cristiano Ronaldo run. Good thing he did. He was about to get free.
42’- Spain once again have their passing cut out quickly. Portugal have played very well in their defending half. Much credit to them.
44’- I feel as though Spain will come out better in the second half. They’ve been outplayed here in the first in my opinion
46’- One minute of added time.
Halftime! 0-0 after 45 minutes. Portugal have looked a lot better than I thought they would, and Spain will be contested for the full 90 minutes. Nothing comes easy at this stage of the tournament.
Spain have had better opportunities, but the threat going forward from Portugal can not be ignored. If Portugal score, it’s going to once again be through the play of Ronaldo. For Spain, I expect to see Torres and Fábregas come on at one point or another. They need to get more settled than Portugal allowed them to be in the first half.
46’- Second half begins! Who will prevail in this tense, close affair?
47’- Bunch of play around the midfield here early on. Just trying to get back in the rhythm here.
49’- Spain win a free kick near the midfield line. They do look a bit more comfortable in the opening moments of this half.
51’- Spain have won a corner now after some good passing. Looking more like their true selves now. The corner comes to nothing though.
53’- Portugal have now wasted a corner of their own now. Goal kick to Spain.
54’- Fábregas coming on for Negredo now. Spain are back in their 4-6-0 formation now. How will this change things?
56’- The fans are doing the wave right now. It’s probably the most exciting thing to happen this half in all honesty.
58’- Hugo Almeida with a big shot that wouldn’t dip. It flys over for a goal kick.
59’- He’s been put through now, but his shot his hit wide. Tough angle against Casillas.
60’- Busquets is booked for arguing something with the referee. Jesús Navas has come on for David Silva now. Back to the 4-5-1 they go.
63’- Opening up a little bit now. One goal looks like it’d be enough to win it at this point.
65’- Fábregas has been brought don just outside the box. Xavi is set to cross it in…headed out for a corner. Nothing comes of that either though.
67’- Xabi Alonso has hit one from his own half trying to catch the keeper out. Nothing doing.
68’- Xavi now makes a run and hits his shot right at Patrício. Almedia at the other end hits a shot wide again. Opening up surely now.
70’- Spain looking comfortable in the back, and seem to be coming back around to playing their style. Wouldn’t put it past them to score in the last 20 minutes here.
72’- Big chance for Portugal now as Ronaldo has a free kick form about 25-30 yards out!
73’- It’s hit just over the bar, but was definitely dipping late. Not a bad effort.
75’- Spain pressuring a bit more now. Still nothing spectacular from either side that makes me believe they can win this. Only takes one moment however.
77’- Portugal with a corner that is swung into the box by Nani. It was five defenders against two forwards. Not surprised that that didn’t work out for them.
78’- Fábregas with an ambitious effort that flies over the bar. The lack of creativity from Spain is stunning really.
81’- Nélson Oliveira coming on for Hugo Almeida. New look up front for Portugal now.
83’- Another free kick for Ronaldo from a dangerous range. It’s hit the wall, but a closer free kick has been given again as a hand ball against Arbeloa sees him receive a yellow.
84’- The next free kick by Ronaldo is hit over again. Looking more and more like extra time now.
87’- Final substitution for Spain as Pedro comes on fro Xavi.
89’- Can either team create one moment of brilliance that will send them to the finals? Only a few minutes to go in regulation.
90’- Ronaldo has been found free on the left, but he crushes it well over! Goodness, that was a chance!
91’- Three minutes of extra time to be played.
92’- Corner for Spain. Probably their last chance to find a winner.
93’- Spain are back in possession after a poor corner. One minute to go.
Extra time will be needed! Some very tense last moments come to nothing, a pretty good indicator of how the whole game has gone thus far. I don’t know if I see this game getting a goal. Penalties look very likely.
My 2-0 prediction could still come true. That won’t happen though. If there is a winner by either side, it will end 1-0.
91’- We begin again. First half of extra time.
93’- Still slow paced and uninteresting early on here.
96’- Back and forth in the midfield here, with not a lot coming from any lead up play. Come on guys; give us something to get excited about!
98’- Piqué with a nice tackle on Ronaldo as he bursts down the left. Two world class players right there going head to head.
101’- Spanish corner. Someone please get a head to this!
102’- Played short. They have another one here though. Played short again…Spain in possession. Taken off of it now by Portugal, who try to break, but it’s cut out.
104’- Iniesta with the chance of the game! It wasn’t hit with much pace, but Patrício made a great point blank save. Still scoreless!
105’- Spain are really pressuring well now. Something to build on for the second half of extra time.
106’- Free kick to Spain from about 30 meters out. Ramos has drilled it just wide! Very, very close!
First half of extra time ends. Custódio comes on for Veloso during the break.
106’- Second half of extra time begins
107’- Ramos relieves the pressure off of the Spanish back line. Things are about to get really tense.
110’- Spain look like the side that can get the breakthrough right now. I’d tip them to win a PK shootout with Iker in net.
112’- Great spell forward for Spain, who just barely can’t find a free ball to poke in.
113’- Varela comes on for Meireles. All subs have been used now.
114’- Pedro has busted through, but his caught from behind. Cleared out by Pepe for a corner that is also cleared away.
117’- Portugal look like they’re defending for penalties now.
119’- Will we see a miracle, late winner here, or will we see penalties for the second straight game?
120’- Good cross into the box, but Iniesta couldn’t do anything on the end of it. Good opportunity.
To penalties we go! It was Spain’s game for the last ten or so minutes there, but they couldn’t get the goal they needed. I’ll give Spain the advantage, for their experience and the fact that they have Iker in net. Here we go!
Spain (Xabi Alonso): Saved! Patrício dives to his left for the save!
Portugal (João Moutinho): Saved! Iker makes a diving save to his right!
Spain (Iniesta): Goal! Slotted in coolly to his right!
Portugal (Pepe): Goal! Just gets it past the outstretched hands of Casillas!
Spain (Piqué): Goal! Great penalty past Patrício, who dove right!
Portugal (Nani): Goal! Slots it in the top bin!
Spain (Sergio Ramos): Wonderful, cheeky chip for the goal! What nerves!
Portugal (Bruno Alves): Miss! Off the crossbar! Spain with a chance to win it!
Spain (Fábregas): OFF THE LEFT POST AND IN! SPAIN HAVE WON IT!
It wasn’t totally convincing, and they’ll have to play better to win it all, but Spain are through to the finals. In a game that was very uneventful and even boring at times, they’ve held off Portugal and won it in the nerviest of ways. They are one win away from history!
It’s hard to think of even one star or flop player in this game. It was probably the worst match of the tournament from an entertainment standpoint, but in the end, the job was done. For Spain, Iniesta made his penalty and was at the end of the best chance of the game. He did create a little as well, something that the entire Spanish side was lacking all game. On the other side, Ronaldo was class again, getting forward and causing headaches in the back for everybody. There will be many questions asked about why he didn’t take a penalty in the shootout. He might have been scheduled to take the fifth one, by for how well Portugal were prepared for this game, it was shocking to see him not step up to the spot.
For both teams, the strikers were poor. For this reason, Hugo Almeida and Negredo will go down as the flop players of the game. They were both subbed out, and had little impact on the game for the time that they were in. Negredo will surely be back on the bench for the final.
Looking forward, Spain will need to seriously up their game if they want to have a chance at winning on Sunday. Sure, they can sit back, defend well, and maybe survive again. But they’re not the type of team to play for a scoreless draw. Both Italy and Germany can pressure them, especially the Germans, who have a much better midfield than Portugal in my opinion. A win is a win, and they should definitely enjoy it. But they’ll need to prepare well, execute their game plan, and just have a better sense of urgency if they want to repeat as European Champions.