With the semi finals lineup for the European Championships of 2012 clear, football fans all over the world can expect two brilliant matches in what promises to be the best semi final lineup in years at the EUROs after Spain were pitted against Iberian rivals Portugal and three time World and European champions Germany slated to take on four time FIFA World Cup champions Italy for a place in the final. Spain and Germany started the tournament as overwhelming favorites and their play throughout the tournament to this stage have been nothing short of spectacular.
Although Spain were shut out by a resolute Italian defense in the first match, managing just a 1-1 draw, they ripped apart the Republic of Ireland 4-0 and beat Croatia 1-0 to set up a quarter final date with France, which they comfortably won, beating Les Bleus 2-0 thanks to two goals from Xabi Alonso, who earned his 100th international cap in the match. Germany, too, started off brightly with a 1-0 win over Portugal, followed by a 2-1 defeat of eternal rivals The Netherlands before beating Denmark by the same score to enter the quarter finals where they thrashed the Greeks 4-2 with some scintillating displays of attacking football, even with top scorer Mario Gomez on the bench.
Germany are the only team left in the competition who have won all of their matches so far in this tournament but come Thursday, they come head to head against a resolute Italian side that boasts some of the best defenders in the world, a side which managed to hold Spain, even taking the lead before a moment of brilliance from Cesc Fabregas squared the game off. The last time these two super powers of world football met, it was in the semi final of the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany when Italy beat the hosts 2-0 in extra time to advance to the finals, going on to lift their 4th FIFA World Cup crown. Since then, the Italians have been extremely disappointing in the subsequent World Cup and European Championships, but under Cesare Prandelli, they are looking like a team again and are confident of beating the Germans.
And as for Portugal, no other team has hit the stride running after losing their first match than Spain’s poor cousins and with Cristiano Ronaldo in blistering form, they have every chance of making it to the final of the tournament and avenge the loss at the hands of the Spanish at the 2010 FIFA World Cup. But the Portuguese coach Paulo Bento knows that stopping the Spanish juggernaut won’t be easy and with the team firing on all cylinders, they will be trying to make it back to back titles at the EUROs. However, he also knows that football is a game of chances and if his team manages to convert one chance and shut out Spain, they will be within touching distance of an elusive title, marking what would be the most glorious moment in their history.