There will be a very strong Spanish flavour at both of the semifinals at Euro 2012, a flavour provoked not only by the presence of Spain.
Spain will take on neighbours Portugal in the first semifinal, in Donetsk on Wednesday.
Vicente del Bosque’s Spanish team are trying to make history by becoming the first-ever national team to win three consecutive major tournaments, following on from their success at the 2010 World Cup and at Euro 2008. The Iberians would also be the first Europeans to defend their title.
Del Bosque’s team are joint favourites for the Euro crown together with Germany. However, they will not find things easy against a Portugal side desperate for revenge for their 1-0 round of 16 defeat against Spain at the 2010 World Cup.
In addition, the Portuguese know all about Spain because no less than seven of their squad play their club football in the Spanish league, continuing a long tradition of Portuguese imports into La Liga.
Portugal coach Paulo Bento has massive local knowledge of Spanish football himself, having played as a defender for Oviedo between 1996 and 2000.
Jose Mourinho, the controversial Portuguese coach of Real Madrid, might give Bento some tips on how to handle Spain over the next few days. However, according to media reports, Mourinho and Bento are not the best of friends, and it has been rumoured that Mourinho would like the Portugal job for himself sooner or later.
There will also be a strong Spanish influence in the other semifinal, to be played in Warsaw on Thursday. In that game, Germany will take on either Italy or England.
Germany’s key midfielders Sami Khedira and Mesut Oezil both play under Mourinho at Real Madrid, and it is obvious that they have both improved as players since joining the Whites in 2010.
In addition, Germany coach Joachim Loew has been keen to imitate Spain’s patient possession game, and this was most apparent in Friday’s 4-2 destruction of Greece in the quarterfinals.
Keywords: Euro 2012