KEIR RADNEDGE in DONETSK: Vicente Del Bosque hopes that Paulo Bento make same mistake as Laurent Blanc when Spain seek to follow up their dismissal of France by seeing off Portugal.
Ahead of last Saturday’s Euro 2012 quarter-final Blanc had said Spain were such masters at maintaining possession of the ball that France would sit back defensively and allow them to do just that.
Blanc duly picked a naively unbalanced team, with two rightbacks, and effectively handed Spain the right to ‘sentence’ the game – which they managed with one early goal and one late goal from midfield anchor Xabi Alonso.
The likelihood is that Bento’s Portuguese, self-assuredly confident that they are on same technical level as Spain and that Cristiano Ronaldo is on a different plane to every other individual at these finals, will dispute the midfield spaces with Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Co.
That is not what Del Bosque, who took over the Spain dream job when Luis Aragones retired after the Euro 2008 success, really, really wants.
He said: “Portugal have a strong defence with two great centre-backs so they do justice to the defenside side of their game. But they also have a very balanced team with fine players who know how to run and work and close down the space.
“I always prefer it when the opposition play in their own half of the pitch. That helps us not only to keep the ball ourselves but to keep the ball in their half. I’d like Portugal to close down in defence because we know how to fight against that.”
Del Bosque and his players reject suggestions that they bore opponents to defeat. They certainly do not kick them or foul them or insult them.
As playmaker Andres Iniesta said: “Everyone has a right to their own opinion. We have our own style and we cannot forget that a few years back this changed the history of Spain forever . . . and I think that’s enough.”
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