Originally posted on Just Cover Blog  |  Last updated 6/26/12

Wednesday’s game: Portugal vs. Spain – 2:45 p.m. ET

Portugal (+350), Spain (-120), Draw (+250)

The first Euro 2012 semifinal will be a battle for the Iberian Peninsula between Portugal and Spain.

Portugal might be the best squad to never win a major tournament, while Spain has shed its reputation as perennial underachiever and is two wins away from a historic run.

Portugal’s tournament started with a 1-0 loss to Germany on a late goal, but the overall performance was impressive, and proved to be a sign of things to come. A late goal of their own earned the Portuguese a 3-2 win over Denmark to put them in a solid position entering the final match of the group stage without getting much out of star Cristiano Ronaldo.

The star showed up against the Netherlands, scoring two goals in a come-from-behind win to clinch of spot in the quarterfinals. In the first knockout game, Portugal earned a 1-0 win over Czech Republic, with Ronaldo again getting the tally. His goal came after he hit the post twice and his team had a goal waved off due to offside. Portugal had 56 percent of the possession and fired 20 shots (five on goal), while allowing just two shots, none of which was on goal. Portugal enters this semifinal match with a lot of momentum.

But you can’t have any more momentum than Spain, which is gunning for a third straight major tournament — something never accomplished before. The Spanish opened up Euro 2012 with a surprising 1-1 draw against Italy. Just when the Spanish invincibility seemed to be coming to an end, they routed Ireland 4-0 and beat Croatia 1-0 with a late goal.

In their quarterfinal against France, they used their possession and stifling defense in a 2-0 win. France, which has plenty of offensive talent, recorded just four shots, one on goal. The Spanish don’t have as much firepower up front — especially when they play without a striker — but their defense has been as good as ever.

Spain is going to control the ball for most of this game. Portugal’s offense is going to have to come on the counterattack, taking advantage on the outside with Ronaldo and Nani. If Spain scores early, as it did against France, the gameplan shifts to holding the ball and not attacking very much at all.

Portugal also has a defensively-sound squad. They’ll want to clog up the middle and stay tight on the Spanish players, forcing tough passes and turnovers. They have the athletes to compete. Offensively, they’ll need to take advantage with some high balls when they have some chances.

There aren’t going to be a ton of chances in this one. I see Spain shutting down Ronaldo and advancing to its third straight major tournament final

Prediction: Portugal 0-1 Spain

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