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SoccerAnchor will be analysisng both Portugal and Spain in detail, and Rick D'Andrea takes a look at the defence...
It is widely believed that in order to win a European Championship, your defence must be beyond rock-solid. The centre-back pairing must work well together, instinctively knowing what your partner will be doing whilst you attend to other tasks, and the fullbacks need to be full of running, both in the attacking and the defensive sense.
With all the specuation coming into the tournament surrounding the absence of influential captain Carles Puyol, Spain have put up a very good account of themselves defensively. Coach Vicente del Bosque's perferred combination of right-back Alvaro Arbeloa, central defenders Gerard Pique and Sergio Ramos and left-back Jordi Alba can hold their heads up hight, having done a superb job for La Furia Roja.
Managing to only concede once against the Italians - in a match in which Azzurri followers felt they should have scored at least one more -and keeping the Republic of Ireland, Croatia and France scoreless shows how primed the reigning World Cup and European Champions are to grab a hat-trick of major tournament titles.
This is in stark contrast to Portugal, despite having an equally strong back four on paper. But in reality, the Seleccao have leaked several goals, especially against the bigger nations in Germany and the Netherlands. And conceding two against Denmark has not helped their cause.
Coach Paulo Bento has opted to start with the same back four - and the starting XI - for all of the Seleccao's Euro 2012 matches. Joao Pereira at right-back, Fabio Coentrao on the left, and Zenit's Bruno Alves paired alongside Pepe in the heart of the defence.
THE LEFT-BACKS - FABIO COENTRAO VERSUS JORDI ALBA
Fabio Coentrao - Paulo Bento's preferred right-back - has a telepathic connection with fellow Portuguese team-mates Pepe and captain Cristiano Ronaldo. Despite the latter being a superstar winger/forward, Coentrao's ability to overlap Ronaldo has meant the likes of Helger Postiga and Hugo Almeida have been able to get some quality, whipped in crosses from the left. This variation comes as CR7 is known for taking on defenders - and beating them one-on-one.
But what it has also meant is that due to Ronaldo's inability to track back and help out his club and country team-mate, the Seleccao have been left exposed. The classic case was against Germany in the opening match, when the cross for Mario Gomez's solitary goal came from the right.
Coentrao's engine is big, and his gas tank is never on empty. Full of energy and spirit, the blond-haired speedster will need to be at his best when taking on the likes of Xavi or David Silva. And having played against the Spaniards on a week-by-week basis in la Liga, he will have some inside knowledge on when to time his run up the field.
On the other hand, Jordi Alba has almost become synonymous with consistency. The left-back's ability to take on opposition wingers - and beat them - has stood out like a beacon.
None more evident than against Spain, when Laurent Blanc opted to use two natural right-backs in Anthony Revelliere and Mathieu Debuchy (as a right-winger) in the match, and the Valencia player beat both of them to deliver a millimetre-perfect cross for Xabi Alonso to header home and open the scoring.
What has also been impressive about Alba is his ability to track back and make the lunging tackle, especially when one-on-one against his opponent. And this will be crucial against Nani, who has become known for beating his opponents with his first touch.
THE RIGHT BACKS - JOAO PEREIRA VERSUS ALVARO ARBELOA
If Fabio Coentrao has a tough job helping out Cristiano Ronaldo on the left, then Joao Pereira can be regarded as his equal on the right, as Nani floats down that side of the park. But Pereira, in my eyes, has been rather more defensive.
Preferring to stay down back rather than push forward, the Seleccao have used fellow Joao - Moutinho - as the link-up player for Nani to flourish in. What this in turn has meant for Portugal is a three-man defence, with Pereira closing down the spaces of opposition left wingers.
Having done an admirable job on Lukas Podolski in the opening match, and Ibrahim Afellay against the Netherlands on Matchday 3, he was barely seen against the Czech Republic, as they hardly retained the ball for long enough to pose a threat.
Alvaro Arbeloa was regarded as the weakest of La Furia Roja's four-man defence. Having not set alight La Liga this term, many believed the Real Madrid stopper would be the the link that would break Spain's chain.
Far from it.
Luka Modric, Aiden McGeady and Franck Ribery are not names to be laughed at, and Arbeloa can hold his head high and say that he has achieved personal victories against all three. Throw into that mix Florent Malouda, and the right-back can claim to have had a top tournament, beyond a lot of people's expectations.
His height, combined with speed, means Arbeloa can run down the flank all day long, but since the reigning champions opt to pass the ball out of defence and slowly work it forward, it has been his passing into the central midfielder - on many occasions Sergio Busquets or Xavi - that has seen Spain create chances.
THE CENTRE-BACKS - PEPE & BRUNO ALVES VERSUS GERARD PIQUE & SERGIO RAMOS
How do you split these two centre-back pairings?
Sergio Ramos and Gerard Pique seem to be quietly going about their business, with not a lot of attention being focused on the duo. Pique's height is well complimented by Ramos' ability to close down the space and chase. The Barcelona stopper's height means he can handle whatever comes into the box, whilst the Real Madrid man can craftily get to the ball on the ground and clear it out of danger - Ramos versus Mario Balotelli when Italy met Spain on Matchday 1 is a prime example.
And throw in Sergio Busquets and Xabi Alonso in front of the centre-back combination, and the quartet have only leaked once, meaning the bus is well and truly parked.
Both players have tactical naus, knowing how to read and interpret the play, which means they can position themselves in anticipation for an opposition attack. Add in the ability to man-mark centre-forwards and support strikers out of the match, and La Furia Roja can be quite pleased with Carles Puyol's replacements.
If no attention has been focused on the Spain centre-backs, the same couldn't have been said for Portugal's duo, especially after their 3-2 win over Denmark on Matchday 2.
The solid combination of Bruno Alves and Pepe may have done an outstanding job against Germany in their opening encounter to stop any form of Die Mannschaft attack through the middle - and only concede once - but it was against the Danes that exposed the Seleccao somewhat.
The likes of Christian Eriksen and Michael Krohn-Dehli were able to weave the ball past the duo, and set up and score goals, keeping the 1992 European Championship winners in the contest and alive in Group B.
Since that match, only Holland have been able to find a way through the staunch Portuguese. And even more impressively - one can say - that the defence did it's job when called upon against the Czechs in the quarter-final, with only two shots being fired by Michal Bilek's men.
Conceding only once versus four times surely favours Spain, but the Portuguese have a core of strong defensive midfielders in Raul Meireles and Miguel Veloso, who aid the back four, meaning they cannot be written off.