Stick with Ronaldo in the all-Iberian matchup

Neighbouring rivals Spain and Portugal will come to blows as they meet in Euro 2012’s first semi-final this evening in Donetsk.

Much of the build-up has been focused on Cristiano Ronaldo, who will be eager to stamp his authority on the game from the outset and bwin have the Portuguese captain as 5/1 favourite to break the deadlock.

The very best players produce the goods in the biggest games and they do not come much bigger than a last-four meeting with your arch-rivals.

On top of that, Spain are world and European champions, so Ronaldo really will need to manufacture a performance of unbelievable quality if his Portugal side are to defeat the greatest footballing nation in the world.   

The big occasions have certainly not fazed the former Manchester United man in recent times, though, so do not expect him to go into hiding as he comes up against his Real Madrid compatriots and Barcelona enemies.

Ronaldo and Fabregas will each hope to be on the end of at least one presentable opportunity and as both are in good nick, you would fancy them to hit the back of the net.

Euro 2012 semi-final: Spain v Portugal – see all goalscorer markets!

Vicente del Bosque’s starting line-up will consist of eight or nine players from the two Spanish giants’ squads, so Ronaldo will know exactly what to expect as he takes the field.

Having scored three times in the competition so far, the Selecção star man will be keen to add to that tally as he goes in search of the Golden Boot.

As well as being a tasty 5/1 to repeat his quarter-final achievement and open the scoring, odds of 3/2 for a Ronaldo goal at any time will surely be a favourite for punters.

A World Cup last-16 clash in 2010 between the Iberian rivals saw Spain pinch a 1-0 victory thanks to a David Villa strike, and one wonders what they would give for his presence in Wednesday’s clash at the Donbass Arena.

Without the tricky Barca forward in their ranks, Del Bosque has favoured playing with six midfielders instead of deploying Fernando Torres, Alvaro Negredo or Fernando Llorente in the lone striker role.

Despite notching twice in the 4-0 rout of Republic of Ireland, ‘El Nino’ was dropped for the quarter-final meeting with France as Cesc Fabregas was again pushed into the ‘false nine’ position, ably assisted on either side by Andres Iniesta and David Silva.

Normally recognised for his capacity to provide chances for others, Fabregas is being relied on to grab the goals himself at this tournament and he has not disappointed by chipping in with two thus far.

The former Arsenal man is priced at 11/2 to get the first goal of the game, while a more tempting bet could be the 5/2 on offer for Fabregas to score in a Spanish win.

Should this outcome occur at these odds, punters would win £70 if they backed it with the free £20 bet available to new customers who register online with bwin.

The last meeting between these two European heavyweights was a friendly clash in November 2010 which, surprisingly, ended in Paulo Bento’s side battering Spain 4-0.

However, looking at the goalscorers from that encounter does not make me want to reach for my wallet and back any of the Portuguese players who notched on that day to repeat the trick.

Carlos Martins and Helder Postiga grabbed a goal apiece, but both are unavailable due to injury, with the former ruled out before the tournament and the latter injuring his hamstring against the Czech Republic.

Hugo Almeida completed Spain’s humiliation by striking in the 90th minute and punters may be interested in a little dabble on another goal for the Besiktas target man.

With Postiga out of contention, he should get the nod over Nelson Oliveira for a starting berth and is 9/1 to break the deadlock or 3/1 to score during the 90 minutes.

Derbies (and indeed semi-finals) are often tight affairs, though, so it makes sense to plump for the leading men in the goalscorer markets.

Ronaldo and Fabregas will each hope to be on the end of at least one presentable opportunity and as both are in good nick, you would fancy them to hit the back of the net.

Recommended bet: Cristiano Ronaldo to score against Spain (90 mins) @ 3/2
Outside punt: Cesc Fabregas to score first (90 mins) @ 11/2

Full Spain v Portugal betting preview

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