Both sides advanced to the semi-finals facing similar tactics from their opponents. Spain against a French side featuring a very defensive XI, quickly went up 1-0 early in the first half and never seemed in jeopardy of losing while managing a 2-0 result. A French side in disarray and apparently missing the memo on the defensive approach, showed no desire to carry out its game’s objectives or win the match, as they registered no shots on goal in the 2nd half. Portugal also playing a Czech Republic with a defensive approach, showed some of its ability to play La Roja’s tiki taka style. The Portuguese after a slow start, became an aggressive attacking side as the Selecção das Quinas unleashed 20 total shots registering a 1-0 result. Ronaldo, scored the only goal and again led the way with the most shots in the match. He has now registered more attempts than Greece, Ireland or Denmark did as a team during their fixtures.
Del Bosque will feature the same starting XI as they did in the quarters. Spain will play a version of the 4-3-3, again featuring a 4-6-0 with Fabregas playing as the false 9 with the regulars of Iniesta, Silva, Xavi, Alonso, and Busquets rounding out the fluent six midfielders. The back line will consist of Alba, Ramos, Pique, and Arbeloa with Casillas in goal. La Roja’s tiki taka approach allows them to dictate tempo, control the game, and possess to defend with numbers. The style displays short, very quick, accurate movements and passing, always looking to exploit a well-timed run with a precise thru ball and providing width on the opposite side for long, changing of point passes. And when they lose possession, they want to win it back immediately. Spain is a clear favorite in the match, but without David Villa and Carles Puyol, they lack a true central striker and a leader for their team on the pitch.
Spain will have better of the possession, but may not necessarily have the better scoring opportunities. The Spanish style of play is an approach that forces opponents to be extremely cautious, defensively organized, and mentally engaged because within seconds, a game can change when playing the Spaniards. Portugal’s past teams always had individual quality, but lacked team unity and spirit. This Portuguese side possess both and has improved in every game. Like Spain they have the individual quality in key positions and the individual battles could dictate the outcome. Coentrao’s duel with Silva will be interesting as cover won’t come from Ronaldo and/or Portuguese midfield (very little if any) with them having to respect Spain’s central players. It could be an isolated affair. Pereira has a massive task in dealing with Iniesta and Nani must provide help defensively to deal with that due,l but also the over-lapping of Alba. Arbeloa who is the weakest in the Spanish XI and doesn’t overlap as often has even a bigger task against Real Madrid teammate Ronaldo. Both Iniesta and Ronaldo have the quality and opportunity to influence the outcome of the match for their respective sides.