Fabregas likens Spain-Portugal clash to El Clasico

By IndepthAfrica
In Soccer
Jun 25th, 2012

Cesc Fabregas has billed Spain’s semi-final grudge match against Iberian rivals Portugal as a clash of styles, similar to the El Clasico contests between Barcelona and Real Madrid.

The Barca star claims the tiki-taka model employed by Spain mirrors that of his club side, while Portugal’s more direct approach is akin to Madrid.

Indeed Vicente Del Bosque’s team on Wednesday night is likely to contain five Barca players, with Portugal having Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo, Pepe and Fabio Coentrao in their line-up.

“You can liken and compare [the semi-final] to Real Madrid versus Barcelona in terms of the respective styles of the teams,” the 25-year-old said.

“Portugal are one of the strongest teams. They defend well and are lethal on the counter. They’re similar to Real Madrid and we must be at the top of our game. But there are different players and we also have players from many teams so it’ll not be the same.”

The defending champions are favourites to retain the title, but Fabregas does not believe they should underestimate Portugal.

The Barca midfielder had plenty of chances to see Portugal’s talisman Ronaldo as he helped Madrid win La Liga last season and he is also wary of the talents of Manchester United winger Nani.

Fabregas added: “I think they play a different system from Real Madrid, but one of Portugal’s strengths is having Ronaldo and Nani. If I were the coach of Portugal I would play on the counter. They can do much damage.”

Despite the obvious talents of Ronaldo and Nani, the former Arsenal star warned about ignoring the talents of Portugal’s other players such as Chelsea’s Raul Meireles, Porto’s Joao Moutinho and Genoa’s Miguel Veloso.

“You have players like Moutinho or Meireles that hold the ball very well, and others of the quality of Veloso, so they may surprise you in many ways.”

Xabi Alonso revealed Spain did not have any special plans in place to deal with Ronaldo, who is the competitions joint leading goalscorer with three.

Alonso, who plays alongside the forward at Madrid, said: “We have nothing planned to curb Cristiano. We can make small adjustments on the fly, try to be close together and as close to the opponent, as we always do.”

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