Euro 2012: Spain duo Alonso and Piqué ready for Ronaldo test
Gerard Pique and Xabi Alonso insist Spain are ready for the test of facing Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo in their semi-final
Gerard Piqué and Xabi Alonso have both insisted that Spain can stifle Cristiano Ronaldo when the defending champions face Portugal in Wednesday’s Euro 2012 semi-final.
Ronaldo scored Portugal’s winner in a 1-0 victory over the Czech Republic in the quarter-finals, taking his tally for the European championship to three goals.
Barcelona’s Piqué has become accustomed to facing Ronaldo since the forward moved from Manchester United to Real Madrid in 2009, and the Spanish defender believes it will take a team effort to limit the Portugal captain’s influence on the semi-final.
“[Ronaldo] is one of the best in the world and if we want to stop him it will have to be a collective effort,” said Piqué.
And Alonso, a team-mate of Ronaldo at Madrid, believes the key is ensuring Portugal’s talisman is not afforded time to turn and run at the Spanish defence,
“We’ll try to cover for him, to make sure Ronaldo doesn’t settle and we don’t let him turn,” said Alonso.
“We always play with the same idea whoever the opponent. In this case, we will analyse Cristiano’s game and there may be small adjustments but we will try to play as a team because that’s the best way to stop a player.”
The former Liverpool midfielder also dismissed criticism of Spain’s style of play at the tournament, insisting the holders will continue to employ the same tactics which have delivered three victories and a draw in Poland and Ukraine.
“Whatever people say I don’t think we are going to change. I am pretty sure that most of the fans are enjoying great football games and great football teams,” Alonso added.
Pre-match facts: Portugal v Spain
• The Iberian rivals first met in Madrid in December 1921, Spain prevailing 3-1. They have largely held the upper hand ever since, with a record against Portugal of P34 W15 D12 L7 F70 A43.
• Piqué, along with Xavi Hernández, Víctor Valdés, Andrés Iniesta, Sergio Busquets and substitute Pedro Rodríguez, was part of the Barcelona team that overcame the Manchester United of Ronaldo and Nani 2-0 in the 2009 Champions League final in Rome.
• Ronaldo and Pepe were on the losing side in a Champions League semi-final with Real Madrid against Spain’s Barcelona contingent in 2010-11, although Ronaldo’s header did earn Madrid victory in that season’s Spanish Cup final between the teams.
• Ronaldo has scored six European championship finals goals, matching Nuno Gomes’ national record.
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