Today at Euro 2012: Portugal v Spain - International - Football - The Independent

Today at Euro 2012: Portugal v Spain

 

Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque does not think Portugal will tinker with their winning formula and spring any tactical surprises in tonight's semi-final.

"They're going to keep the 4-3-3 that they have used so far. It is true that the other teams that we have faced have made reinforcements to their defence, but I don't expect that Portugal will change anything," Del Bosque said.

Portugal defender Joao Pereira said: "We have to be ourselves and not change the way we play just because we're going to face the reigning champions."

Their coach, Paulo Bento, is without striker Helder Postiga due to a hamstring injury. Hugo Almeida is expected to start in his place. Spain have no injury worries and are likely to be unchanged.

Player to watch (other than Ronaldo): Fabio Coentrao, Portugal

Jose Mourinho paid €30m bringing Fabio Coentrao to Real Madrid this time last year, such was the reputation the left-back had built up while at Benfica. Although the defender was caught smoking on a birthday night out in March and dropped by his manager, Mourinho regularly champions his cause.

The signing raised eyebrows at the time – the 24-year-old would have to compete with Marcelo for a starting berth – but after performing admirably in a utility role at the Bernabeu, Coentrao cemented his place as an integral member of the La Liga-winning squad. Despite impressing, his defending has been the subject of some heavy questioning in Madrid. Mourinho defended him to the press after the Champions League defeat to Bayern Munich.

For club and country, Coentrao loves to bomb forward, creating a useful option for the countering Ronaldo, and is likely to divert the attention of Spain's Alvaro Arbeloa. The full-back is afforded the luxury to join in because defensively he allows the sitting midfielder Miguel Veloso to cover a roaming opposition winger – in this case David Silva.

How boldly Coentrao sticks to his guns against Spain this evening will be key as to how effective Portugal can be in an attacking sense.

Second fine for Croatia over racism while pitch invader costs Portugal

Uefa has fined the Croatian and Portuguese football federations for the improper conduct of their supporters during Euro 2012 matches.

The Croatian football federation, which last week was fined €80,000 (£64,000) after Croatia fans were found guilty of racially abusing the Italy striker Mario Balotelli, was yesterday handed a further €30,000 (£24,000) punishment for incidents during the Group C match with Spain, including the display of racist banners.

The Portuguese federation, meanwhile, was fined €7,000 (£5,600) for an attempted pitch invasion by a supporter in last Thursday's quarter-final victory over the Czech Republic.

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