Euro 2012: Ronaldo's Portugal await for France or Spain

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Cristiano Ronaldo
Donetsk, Jun 23: Following Portugal's defeat of the Czech Republic, France and Spain now know who they will play in the Euro 2012 semi-finals if they emerge victorious from their quarter-final clash.

Despite Cristiano Ronaldo's searing form, both teams will hope that Portugal's presence in the last four is a good omen. France beat Portugal in the semi-finals en route to success at both Euro 1984 and Euro 2000, as well as at the same stage of the 2006 World Cup.

Spain, meanwhile, overcame their Iberian rivals in the last 16 on the way to glory at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. First, however, there is Saturday's meeting in Donetsk, and the number of short, technically gifted midfielders in France's squad bears testament to Laurent Blanc's admiration for world and European champions Spain.

Since replacing Raymond Domenech at the France helm after the 2010 World Cup, Blanc has attempted to inculcate a passing game that mirrors the Spaniards' approach and his squad is an eloquent demonstration of that ambition.

Blanc has only two genuine strikers at his disposal -- Karim Benzema and Olivier Giroud -- but can call upon a wealth of nimble creative midfielders such as Samir Nasri, Franck Ribery, Jeremy Menez, Hatem Ben Arfa and Marvin Martin.

He has tried to turn France into a side that dominates its opponents but he admits that on Saturday, his players will be up against the masters in that domain.

"If you manage to have more possession of the ball than Spain, it'd be an achievement," said the France coach. "In that area, they are very, very strong. It's a style of football that I like. And not only is it nice to watch, but it's efficient as well.

"The problem against Spain is that the players will have to be mentally prepared to run a huge amount and block the spaces as much as possible, even if they always manage to find space due to their quality."

AFP

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