Germany and Spain under threat
For many it is a foregone conclusion that the Germans will be taking on the Spanish come the final day of Uefa Euro 2012™ on Saturday. If there is one thing this soccer season in Europe has taught us, it is that surprises are imminent.
The Germans have been by far the most impressive team in this championship and, though disappointing at times, the Spanish have been just behind as the second best team so far.
However Italy and Portugal have been growing in strength since day one and the only team that came close to beating the Germans has been the Portuguese team.
Cristiano Ronaldo is getting close to his best as the tournament progresses and the improvement in the defensive network of the Portuguese is impressive.
The tactical progression that the Portuguese put on show when they took on the Czech Republic was impressive. Playing cautiously in the first half and coming out blazing in different variations that had the Czechs so defensive they were out of breath each time they got the ball.
If there is a team that has impressed us all by their progression and pleasant change in playing style (the English are living witnesses) it is the Italians. I never thought I would say this but they have been a beauty to watch and Andrea Pirlo in the midfield is pure delight to watch perform.
The Portuguese and the Italians take on title favourites Germany and Spain with really relatively no pressure at all, judging from the fact that if anyone offered the two nations a semifinal berth just before the debut of the championships they would have signed with both hands.
To beat the Spanish the Portuguese have to use their best weapon: Cristiano Ronaldo.This is a game they would have to sacrifice for him defensively and give him freedom to run at the defense of Spain, which is their weakest section; while staying compact but not passive as they rightfully did when they took on the Germans.
The Italians have to be vigilant and audacious as they have been till date when they square up with the Germans.
My only fear for Italy is how Pirlo will deal with the aggressive and physical football of the German midfielders and, who knows, maybe they are the ones who might suffer from Pirlo.
However it must be said that, should the Germans and the Spanish play at their best, they really should make the finals. Fortunately for us, nothing is normal these days.
They have the pressure to live up to expectations and anything less than the championship will be termed a failure for Spain and Germany. That is very big pressure to live with.
That is why I believe, if care is not taken, we might see not a shock elimination of one of the two giants and maybe even a Portugal vs Italy final. The die is cast.