Euro 2012: Heavyweights remain as semifinals loom

Euro 2012: Heavyweights remain as semifinals loom

Euro 2012

Euro 2012: Heavyweights remain as semifinals loom


Xavi (Getty Images)

There has been plenty of quality on display throughout Euro 2012 but there also haven't been many surprises, leaving four of the continent's biggest sides still fighting for the chance to be crowned champions.

Germany, Italy, Portugal and reigning champs Spain are the remaining teams who will look to advance to the tournament finale in Kiev on June 1, a chance to be etched into European soccer history looming for all.

Two of those teams will be knocked out before the weekend arrives, however, as Spain and Portugal clash on June 27 in Donetsk while Germany faces Italy a day later in Warsaw. Germany and Spain are the favorites to advance, but Italy and Portugal have shown quality in this tournament that should not be overlooked.

Cristiano Ronaldo has made a pair of subpar performances in the group stage an afterthought, having led Portugal to 1-0 victory over the Czech Republic in the quarterfinals. Ronaldo accounts for Portugal's last three tallies in the tournament and he should prove a handful for a Spanish side that has demonstrated moments of weakness within its usual brilliance.

Italy, meanwhile, is coming off a penalty kick victory over England. The Italians are sure to be a bit more fatifued than their German counterparts, having played 120 scoreless minutes against the Three Lions. But Andrea Pirlo has proven he still has the skill and savvy to break open defenses, while Mario Balotelli has been a handful for opposing defenders.

Still, Germany should be brimming with confidence when it takes on Italy. The Germans have yet to lose a game in this competition and have demonstrated impressive depth at a number of positions. That was clear for all to see in Germany's 4-2 victory over Greece, as Die Mannschaft head coach Joachim Low made three different attacking selections in his lineup and it worked out to near perfection.

Playing nearly perfect might be the norm for Spain, but this tournament has shown the defending champions might not be as good as the team in 2008. Spain does not have a pure forward that head coach Vicente Del Bosque has complete confidence in, with Cesc Fabregas and Fernando Torres splitting time up top through four games. But Spain has shown it can win without a top striker and Xabi Alonso's two-goal performance in a 2-0 victory against France was the latest piece of evidence.

So, yes, there may be clear-cut favorites for these semifinal games but no one is a clear-cut winner. Not with the way these teams have been playing.


How excited are you for the semifinals fixtures? Who do you think will reach the finals? Who is your pick to win it all?

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