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Spain spies arrive in droves

Published: Sunday 24 June 2012, 16.00CET
There were some unfamiliar faces showing up at Portugal's Opalenica training base today but, as Andy Brassell reports, it is just the start of the Portugal-Spain media frenzy.
by Andy Brassell
from Opalenica
 
Published: Sunday 24 June 2012, 16.00CET

Spain spies arrive in droves

There were some unfamiliar faces showing up at Portugal's Opalenica training base today but, as Andy Brassell reports, it is just the start of the Portugal-Spain media frenzy.

There is always a sizeable media presence wherever Portugal are, but behind the white lines of the training pitch in Opalenica this morning, more noticeable than the usual chatter in the team's native language – or even the English spoken by international journalists – was the less familiar buzz of Castellano.

©AFP/Getty Images

There has been no shortage of attention on Cristiano Ronaldo

Spain's press and sports television corps will make up a significant portion of fresh visitors to the squad's training camp in the coming days, as their side limber up for Wednesday's semi-final against Portugal in Donetsk. Clearly one man will be the centre of attention. "When you look at our neighbouring country, there's a footballer high above all the rest," wrote today's edition of Marca. "It's enough just to look at his statistics to understand that our biggest enemy is called Cristiano Ronaldo, with his 65 goals in official matches this season."

Yet Ronaldo is not alone in his familiarity to the Spanish football-watching public. It will be little surprise that his Real Madrid CF team-mates Fábio Coentrão and Pepe have been two of the outstanding performers in UEFA EURO 2012, and Ricardo Costa, Ruben Micael and Hélder Postiga all also ply their trade in the Spanish Liga. Right-back João Pereira will join Costa at Valencia CF in time for the new season.

Pereira was even asked today by one keen Spanish broadcaster if he had been in touch with any of Spain's stars to exchange pre-match pleasantries. "No, I don't know any of them personally – and I still have to learn Spanish too," he smiled. Clearly the defender is already starting to absorb the fervour with which Spain, as a nation, observes the game.

It's not alone, though. With three days still to go before the game, journalists from an estimated 12 nations were present at today's media conference. Already, it looks as if Portugal's match with Spain will make the whole world stop and stare.

Last updated: 26/06/12 17.40CET

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