Cristiano Ronaldo will aim to fire Portugal into the Euro 2012 final when they face Iberian rivals, Spain, on Wednesday night.
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It’s not often at this level of football that you will see such a game resolve purely around the performance of one individual, but the chance of a scalp for the Portuguese does rest on Ronaldo (5/1 first goalscorer) and whether he is on the top of the game at the Donbass Arena in Donetsk (Portugal 7/2, draw 12/5, Spain 10/11 Betfred
The former Manchester United forward notched up 46 goals in La Liga this term, so he has no qualms in facing Spanish opposition, but the national side will prove a completely different prospect all together.
Ronaldo (2/1 Euro 2012 top goalscorer) has bagged himself three goals in the European Championships so far and could have had plenty more, having hit the woodwork on a host of occasions.
The 27-year-old’s ability to score goals from 30 yards, three yards, with his head, or either feet, mean he is a nightmare to defend against – especially when you add to that his blistering pace.
His Real team-mate Alvaro Arbeloa is the man who has been given the unenviable task to keep Ronaldo quiet on Wednesday night and the defender will be hoping that Spain’s ability to keep hold of the ball will give him some respite from the striker’s attacks.
Portugal do have some other stars who must play a strong supporting role if they are to reach the final, to face either Germany or Italy, with United winger Nani set to add another attacking string to the Portuguese bow.
The former Sporting Lisbon player has not been at the peak of his powers in the tournament so far but on his night he can cause defenders serious problems, as he has shown in the Premier League.
Midfielder Raul Meireles must play a disciplined role in the middle of the park, whilst Joao Moutinho is set to add another creative spark in behind Ronaldo.
But Spain are European and world champions for a reason and their ability to work just has hard off the ball as they do with it makes them such a difficult opponent.
The Spanish have not reached top gear in the competition so far, but they have not really had to at this stage, and the fact they have seemed to have got this far without starting a recognised striker in some of their outings has shown the quality of their personnel.
Goals can come from all over the pitch with Spain – which makes choosing a first goalscorer for the defending champions difficult.
Chelsea’s Fernando Torres (11/8 anytime goalscorer) will be determined to play a role but it’s uncertain whether head coach Vicente del Bosque will select the Blues striker.
If Spain (13/8 Euro 2012 outright) can keep tabs on Ronaldo and frustrate the world-class front man, then they could win this game by a couple of goals and they should be able to string enough attacks of their own, to book their place in the final on July 1.