Euro 2012: Ronaldo denies pressure ahead of Spain semi-final

Euro 2012: Portugal v Spain

  • Venue: Donbass Arena, Donetsk
  • Date: Wednesday, 27 June
  • Kick-off: 19:45 BST

Coverage: Live on BBC One, BBC Radio 5 live and BBC Sport website

Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo has denied feeling weighed down by the burden of expectation ahead of his side's semi-final against Spain.

The Real Madrid attacker, 27, has scored three goals in Portugal's last two games to guide his team to a last-four fixture in Ukraine on Wednesday.

With the hopes of the nation focused on him, Ronaldo said: "These games are part of my life.

"I have to be used to them. Responsibility yes, pressure no."

LAWRO'S PREDICTION

"Spain believe they are unbeatable but, with Cristiano Ronaldo on song, Portugal will think otherwise. Since playing so negatively for 70 minutes against Germany in their opening game, they have been as good as any team at Euro 2012."

Ronaldo came into the tournament off the back of an outstanding domestic season in Spain, in which he scored 46 goals in 38 league games to drive Real to the title.

After wasting several chances in Portugal's first two group games against Germany and Denmark, Ronaldo scored twice against Netherlands to ensure Portugal's progression to the knockout stages.

He then headed the winner in the 1-0 victory over Czech Republic, setting up a much-anticipated semi-final against neighbours and reigning world and European champions Spain.

"I knew the goals would come," said Ronaldo. "It didn't start very well, but with the sacrifices of my team-mates everything improved."

Spain have had mixed success against Ronaldo and Portugal in recent years. In the 2010 World Cup, they starved him of the ball and clinched a 1-0 last-16 victory in Cape Town before subsequently going on to lift the trophy.

Ronaldo earns Portugal semi-final place

However, in their last meeting in November 2010, Ronaldo helped Portugal to a 4-0 friendly victory in Lisbon.

"It's tough trying to stop a player with his qualities," said Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque. "He's extremely dangerous both when he has space and without it.

"We will try to shut him down, the best example of which we can see in the World Cup, which gave us a good result. It will possibly be with different men and names, but the idea is always the same."

Ronaldo is expected to face former Liverpool full-back Alvaro Arbeloa on the flank of the Donbass Arena in Donetsk.

Arbeloa's team-mates have pledged to come to his aid in a team plan to prevent Ronaldo from exerting influence on the fixture.

Fellow Barcelona and Spain player Xavi said: "We have a great full-back in Arbeloa, who is among the best out there defensively speaking.

SHOOT ON SIGHT

  • Cristiano Ronaldo has had more shots (32) than any other player at Euro 2010. Italy's Mario Balotelli is second with 20.

"We'll try to cover for him, to make sure Ronaldo doesn't settle and we don't let him turn."

Several teams, including France and Republic of Ireland, have sought to play a holding game in an attempt to keep Spain at bay.

Portugal defender Joao Pereira, however, insisted his team would seek to play at their own tempo on Wednesday.

"We have to be ourselves and not change the way we play just because we're going to face the reigning world and European champions," he said. "We're going to play our own game."

The last occasion Portugal reached the final of a major tournament was in Lisbon at Euro 2004, when the hosts lost 1-0 to Greece.

Ronaldo is keen to overwrite that memory with success in Poland and Ukraine.

"It's nice that Portugal have a chance to reach another final after eight years," he said. "It will be difficult but we are only one step away."