Ronaldo urges Portugal to battle hard against Spain in semis

Jun 27, 2012, 07:44 IST | AFP

Skipper Ronaldo urges Portugal to battle hard against defending champions Spain in semis

Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo insisted he remains calm before tonight’s Euro 2012 semi-final against defending champions Spain in Dontesk. “These games are part of my life. I have 10 years playing them in clubs and for the national side, so I have to be used to them. Responsibility yes, pressure no,” he said.

Twinkle toes: Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo during a training session on Monday. PIC/AFP

“It’s nice that Portugal have a chance to reach another final after eight years (Euro 2004 final loss to Greece when Portugal hosted the championship). It will be difficult but we are only one step away.

“We have done a great job, not only in the finals of the Euros, but also in the qualifying round. And now we are reaping the fruit.”

Ronaldo leads the scoring chart alongside Germany’s Mario Gomez, Russia’s Alan Dzagoev and Croatia’s Mario Mandzukic, but the latter two are already back home with their sides eliminated in the group stage. “I knew the goals would come. It didn’t start very well, but with the sacrifices of my teammates everything improved,” he said.

Ronaldo dismissed talk that their Spanish rivals have reason to complain because they have two days less to recover before tonight’s Iberian clash. “Three days rest is more than sufficient. The Spanish have commented that having two fewer days rest is a disadvantage, but as a professional I don’t think it’s important,” the Real Madrid striker was quoted as saying on UEFA’s website.

Portugal advanced to the semi-finals last Thursday by beating the Czech Republic 1-0, while defending champions’ Spain beat France 2-0 on Saturday. “You have to prepare for the match in the same way that we prepared for the others. We don’t have to do anything different. It will be a hard clash in which Portugal has to do very well to beat Spain.

“We are ready and we will do our best,” said Ronaldo, who has scored three goals so far in the tournament.

Key battles

Ronaldo vs Arbeloa
The Real Madrid teammates line up opposite each other.
Ronaldo, who will terrorise the left wing, is not only instrumental in constructing many of Portugal’s moves, he is often there to finish them off too, as he has shown with three goals in the final two group games. Arbeloa will have to track him well and communicate with his team-mates in order to deal with the the threat.

Torres vs Pepe
Torres proved his worth scoring twice against Ireland. He will need to produce this kind of performance if he is deployed as the centre forward by Vicente Del Bosque as he will be facing Portugal’s defensive commander Pepe whose strength and awareness will make his side difficult to break down.

Alonso vs Moutinho
Real Madrid’s Alonso came to the fore in Spain’s quarter-final against France as he scored twice. Both will look to stifle their opponents from midfield, although with Spain’s possession-dominated play, Porto man Moutinho could be set to do the most running.  

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