Spaniards respect Portuguese threat
Soccer:Spain midfielder Cesc Fabregas believes Portugal should not be taken for granted ahead of their Euro 2012 semi-final in Donetsk on Wednesday. The defending champions are favourites to retain the title, but Barcelona midfielder Fabregas does not believe they should underestimate Portugal.
Fabregas had plenty of chances to see Portugal’s star player Cristiano Ronaldo as he helped Real Madrid win La Liga last season and he is also wary of the talents of Manchester United winger Nani.
Fabregas told www.marca.com: “I think they play a different system from Real Madrid, but one of Portugal’s strengths is having Ronaldo and Nani. If I were the coach of Portugal I would play on the counter. They can do much damage, but surely if we defend very well together we will have a good game.”
Despite the obvious talents of Ronaldo and Nani, the Barcelona midfielder warned about ignoring the talents of Portugal’s other players such as Chelsea’s Raul Meireles, Porto’s Joao Moutinho and Genoa’s Miguel Veloso.
“You have players like Moutinho or Meireles that hold the ball very well, and others of the quality of Veloso, so they may surprise you in many ways.”
Xabi Alonso, who scored both goals as Spain beat France in the quarter-finals, revealed Spain do not have any special plans in place to deal with his Real Madrid clubmate Ronaldo.
He told a press conference: “We have nothing planned to curb Cristiano. We can make small adjustments on the fly, try to be close together and as close to the opponent, as we always do.”
As well as facing Ronaldo the game will see Alonso take on other club-mates Pepe and Fabio Coentrao.
He added: “I see all three have continued their great performances during the season. This does not surprise me. Portugal are in a great moment, they are powerful, and we know the danger they pose.”