This could be a really great game.
Or it could be business as usual as Spain continue to pass their way toward their third consecutive final in a major tournament.
Spain have moved through Euro 2012 in fairly straightforward fashion, using their patented tiki-taka to emerge comfortably from Group C and stifle France in the quarterfinals.
Portugal had a more dynamic road, overcoming a loss to fellow semifinalists Germany in their first group match to book a quarterfinal date with a stubborn but ultimately toothless Czech Republic.
So now these neighbors face off, with many believing the title-holders will do to the smaller member of their peninsula what they have done to every other squad for the past 4 years.
But Portugal have something those other squads don’t. They have Cristiano Ronaldo.
The Portuguese handed Spain their biggest defeat in recent memory with a 4-0 drubbing in a friendly way back in 2010.
The stakes are much different, and Spain’s power much more consolidated today, but history may be the only advantage Bento’s men carry into this match.
It will all be settled on the pitch starting at 2:45 ET. Join me then for lineups and commentary, after the jump!
Portugal Lineup: Rui Patricio; Joao Pereira, Bruno Alves, Pepe, Fabio Coentrao; Raul Meireles, Miguel Veloso, Joao Moutinho; Nani, Hugo Almeida, Cristiano Ronaldo
Spain Lineup: Iker Casillas; Alvaro Arbeloa, Sergio Ramos, Gerard Pique, Jordi Alba; Sergio Busquets, Xabi Alonso; Xavi, Andres Iniesta, David Silva; Alvaro Negredo
Pregame: I have already heard clamors on Twitter for the latest addition of Fernando Torres’ LiveJournal after his continued exclusion.
Pregame: I’m with Lorber on this one. Força Portugal!
Pregame: God please don’t let this game be boring.
1st Minute: Portugal in white, Spain in red. Portugal start with possession, they won’t want to ever give it up.
2nd minute: Portugal corner. Casillas stretches to tip out for another!
3rd Minute: Casillas intercepts well on his 136th cap.
5th Minute: Portugal looking composed and organized to start. Bento really has them playing better D than any Portugal side I can remember.
6th Minute: Pepe slides in to quell any promise of a Spain attack from the left.
7th Minute: Research! Spain have averaged almost 70% possession this tournament. Portugal, around 45%.
9th Minute: Iniesta unlocks the Portuguese defense coming in from the left. Arbeloa ends up blasting over as the ball falls to him at the top of the box. Could have done better.
11th Minute: Coentrao gallops up the flank to begin a bit of Portuguese possession. You can see each side favoriting it’s own attacking left side early on here. I have been impressed by Coentrao this Euro.
13th Minute: Ronaldo gets a chance to break, goes wide and puts in a decent cross that Casillas reads comfortably.
15th Minute: Portugal looking for Ronaldo with a long ball now. They are doing well to keep Spain honest so far.
16th Minute: Ronaldo wins a dangerous free kick now, right on the left side edge of Spain’s box.
17th Minute: Disappointing, as Ronaldo blasts into the 2-man wall. Portugal eventually get another corner. Cleared harmlessly.
20th Minute: Nani breaks but is cut down by Ramos, who is not penalized. How does he get away with this shit? Nani’s reputation probably.
21st Minute: Hearing Ian Darke say “tiki-taka” makes me want to throw up.
24th Minute: Ronaldo blasts a wild effort well over on a spin from way out. Would have done better to possess in a dangerous position there.
27th Minute: Portugal with some sustained pressure. I like the way they are playing here. Need to find the killer ball.
29th Minute: Iniesta curls one just over after good hold up play from Negredo. That was a chance.
30th Minute: Referee looking shaky. Let’s hope that doesn’t influence this.
Ronaldo snaps a shot just wide!
34th Minute: A lot of techinical skill on display so far. It’s been good to watch. A little ebb and flow to it now.
36th Minute: Nani down. Drink.
40th Minute: Spain putting on the pressure now. Portugal covering well though.
Yellow Card: Sergio Ramos goes in the book for ending another Ronaldo break from an uncharacteristic stray Spanish pass.
45th Minute: All a bit slowed down for the last few minutes here. No real chances to speak of.
Yellow Card: Coentrao? No word on exactly why he’s been booked.
45 +1: Patricio collects off a headed longball for the final play of the half.
HT: A decent, tense match so far. Very few clear cut chances. But Portugal have shown they fully intend to take Spain head on, and have refused to let Spain totally dominate possession.
This is set up for a very intriguing second half.
Refresh your beverages. Don’t give me any of that “but I’m at work” crap.
46th Minute: We’re underway. No subs yet.
49th Minute: Small melee in the Spain box, no real shots come out of it. Nervy start to this half.
51st Minute: Spain puts together like 50 passes and eventually wins a corner. It’s eventually cleared.
53rd Minute: Portugal corner now. It’s poor from Moutinho.
54th Minute: SPAIN SUB: Negredo off for Fabregas. Torres gently weeps.
56th Minute: Coentrao wins a corner after swift movement up the left.
Neither team making the most of their set piece opportunities.
57th Minute: Almeida smash! Well over.
59th Minute: Almeida misses again from a tight angle. Good interplay with Ronaldo.
60th Minute: Yellow Card to Busquets, for asking the ref to give Ronaldo a yellow card, I think.
61st Minute: Yellow Card to Pepe, for expressing his love for Xabi Alonso with a knee to the back.
64th Minute: Yellow Card to Pereira, definite foul. Fabregas could have been in. Dangerous FK for Spain.
65th Minute: Well defended. Out for a Spain corner. Eventually cleared.
67th Minute: Does Xabi Alonso have to shoot from his half in every game? Xavi ends up with a shot straight to Rui Patricio’s gut from distance.
72nd Minute: Portugal free kick, over 30 yards out.
73rd Minute: Decent effort from Ronaldo, but it goes over.
76th Minute: Promising Portugal attack fizzles, but results in a corner. Cleared again.
80th Minute: Free kick for Portugal goes straight to Casillas. Really wasted all of these set pieces for both sides.
81st Minute: PORTUGAL SUB: Lorber gets his wish, as Almeida is removed in favor of Oliveira.
83rd Minute: Don’t know what Alonso is complaining about. Definite foul on Ronaldo, another free kick from a long way out.
84th Minute: Now again from closer after a handball in the wall!
And it’s over the bar.
86th Minute: Yellow Card for Bruno Alves. Cynical foul.
87th Minute: SPAIN SUB: Xavi off for Pedro.
90th Minute: Ronaldo could have won it! A better pass would have seen him in but he can do better from that position.
90 +2: Spain corner kick ends up all the way back with Casillas. That about sums up the whole second half here.
90 +3: Yellow Card to Veloso. We could see a team fall to ten men in extra time.
FT. 0-0 still in this Euro 2012 Semifinal.
You all know the rules. 30 more minutes at least. Free football!
I hope I get paid extra nothing for doing this liveblog.
91st Minute: First period of extra time has begun.
94th Minute: Yawn.
97th Minute: Can it be that both of these teams are playing for penalties already?
99th Minute: Pepe just steamrolled Pedro. Who of course is now paralyzed.
102nd Minute: Spain win a corner. And another.
103rd Minute: Portugal almost pull the counter after the seconf Spain corner but Oliveira can’t control.
104th Minute: CHANCE! Rui Patricio comes up huge! A typical bit of Spanish play sees Iniesta free from close range but the Portuguese keeper get his fingertips to it!
105th Minute: Chances coming from the Spanish left flank again. Free kick from a dangerous position now.
105 +1: It’s Ramos who takes and he just hits it over!
First Half of ET Over.
PORTUGAL SUB: Custodio on for Veloso.
106th Minute: Back in action. Spain beginning to have the lion’s share of the play.
111th Minute: CHANCE! Rui Patricio with another good bit of keeping, stops Navas coming in from the right.
PORTUGAL SUB: Varela on for Meireles. In for the PKs?
113th Minute: Yellow Card. Xabi Alonso wisely fouls Ronaldo.
114th Minute: Pedro springs free! But he’s alone and Portugal recovers, Coentrao clear for a Spain corner.
115th Minute: Just nothing happening on any of these set plays.
117th Minute: Cute play from Spain on the left, but the 1-2 pulls Pedro offsides.
119th Minute: Pedro marauding on the left the last few minutes. Spain could have used that all match.
120th Minute: Another break, this time the right side and Navas, the cross is cleared.
And we’re headed to penalties!
Penalties near a large section of La Roja fans.
Spain shoots first. Rui Patricio in Net.
Xabi Alonso: WHAT A SAVE FROM RUI PATRICIO!
Portugal second. Casillas in net.
Joao Moutinho: SAVE BY CASILLAS!
Andres Iniesta: Goal! Down the middle.
Pepe: Places it well and scores!
Pique: Good penalty! Scored to the left past Patricio.
Nani: Roofs it! Confident PK.
Sergio Ramos: Does his best Pirlo impression! Comfortable shot down the middle.
Bruno Alves: Alves hits the bar!
Fabregas could win it…
Off the post and in!
Spain qualify for their 3rd straight final in a major tournament and Cristiano Ronaldo doesn’t even take a kick.
Thanks for staying with me everyone. We get/have to watch Spain on their qquest for 3 in a row one more time.