Rob Soria is the Edmonton Oilers' correspondent for OurHometown.ca. Rob was born and raised in Edmonton and is the author of the Edmonton Oilers blog - OilDrop.ca. He has been a dedicated follower of the game and its history for years but his focus remains on his hometown Edmonton Oilers. If you have questions or wish to contact Rob, you can email him at email@example.com
Euro 2012 - Ronaldo set to face Madrid teammates in semi-final date with Spain
Xabi Alonso led the way with a pair of markers, in what was a rather easy 2-0 victory for Spain over France, in quarter final action at Euro 2012. The defending champs will now square off against Cristiano Ronaldo and the red hot Portuguese in the semi-finals on Wednesday, June 27th in Donetsk. With the winner earning the right to play for the European Championship on July 1st in Kyiv.
Edmonton - June 24, 2012 -
As we near the final stages of Euro 2012, the cream of the crop are starting to find their form and making a team like Spain look almost unstoppable. On this night, it was Xabi Alonso who led the way with a pair of markers, in what was a rather easy 2-0 quarter final victory over an overmatched France squad, After putting together their best all around performance of the competition, the defending champs will now face Cristiano Ronaldo and the red hot Portuguese in the first semi-final on Wednesday, June 27th in Donetsk. In what will surely be a pressure packed matchup, the two sides will be battling for the right to play for the European Championship on July 1st in Kyiv.
It was clear from the outset, the French were going to try and slow Spain down by using a far more defensive system than they are accustomed to playing. In theory a sound strategy but in reality, it is one that is bound to fail against a side like the Spanish. To try and shutdown what is arguably the best collection of players on the planet, with a side that is not suited to playing defence first soccer, was nothing more than wishful thinking.
Spain took the play to the French from the opening whistle and despite rarely giving up possession, they were unable to find a way to solve goalkeeper Hugo Lloris. Try as they might, the continued wave of one Spanish attack after another was simply too much for France and they would finally break, after only nineteen minutes.
With Andres Iniesta working his way down the left side of the pitch, the Madrid man sent a beautifully placed pass down the flank for Jordi Alba. The defender's perfectly timed run allowed him to enough space to beat defender Anthony Reveillere, before sending a cross to the far post and an unmarked Alonso. The Real Madrid standout made no mistake, burying a brilliantly placed header across the grain and leaving the French keeper no chance on the play..
It was a thing of beauty but one that could have been easily avoided, if Alonso was not allowed to make his run all the way inside the penalty area, without a single white shirt picking him up. Midfielder Florent Malouda was with Alonso outside the box but couldn't be bothered to track him up the pitch. A decision that proved costly to the French, as they conceded the early goal they were hoping to avoid.
Outside of a tireless effort from Franck Ribery and some fine goalkeeping from Lloris, France accomplished little on the night. Spain kept possession, as usual, for what seemed like the entire match and there was nothing the French could do about. They tied to slow them down, but it was one pass after another and within seconds, the Group C winners were on their way. As was mentioned during the telecast, it was as if "there was only one team on the pitch", which at times, made it feel like we were watching nothing more than a training session for the absurdly talented side.
A late bit of fancy footwork from Pedro, led to the Barcelona man being brought down inside the area, just as the full ninety minutes were about to expiry. The ill timed foul left Alonso the opportunity to end what had been a wonderful night for the midfielder, on a high note. After calmly stepping up to the mark and ripping a shot into the side netting, Alonso had his brace in what was his one hundredth game for Spain, and the defending Euro and World Cup champions were through to the semi-finals.
Leaving soccer fans salivating what could potentially be an outstanding semi-final match against Cristiano Ronaldo and the Portuguese. For Ronaldo it will not only be about facing Spain but he will also be up against many of his Real Madrid teammates. It will be interesting to see how the Spanish decide to deal with the Portuguese captain, as he has raised his level of play in back-to-back matches and almost single-handedly carried Portugal into the final four.