There was only one absentee from Portugal's training sessions in Opalenica this week, but it was a significant one. Hélder Postiga is not a globally worshipped star like Cristiano Ronaldo, yet nobody in Paulo Bento's camp needs any convincing of his value.
The Real Zaragoza man is, in many ways, the ideal centre-forward for this side. His mobility and industry suits the amorphous shape of Portugal's front three under their coach. Perhaps most importantly, his incorporation also allows Ronaldo to play in his preferred position wide on the left.
Yet as soon as 'Postigol' pulled up clutching his right thigh in the first half of Thursday's UEFA EURO 2012 quarter-final against the Czech Republic, it seemed highly likely that Bento would have to change his starting XI for the first time in seven competitive matches should Portugal reach the last four.
His replacement on the night was Hugo Almeida, and the 28-year-old is likely to reprise that role from the start against Spain. Standing at 1.91m, he is a completely different proposition to Postiga. Within seconds of entering the pitch in Warsaw, Almeida had a deep cross launched towards him early by Nani, outlining the options he can give the side.
Yet the Beşiktaş JK man is no one-trick pony. As well as having an absolute hammer of a left foot – he scored what must be one of the fiercest free-kicks in UEFA Champions League history in FC Porto's November 2005 loss at FC Internazionale Milano – Almeida can get behind a defence more nimbly than one might expect. In fact, that's exactly what he did in the dying embers of Portugal's 4-0 defeat of Spain in November 2010, bursting clear of a static back line to confidently slot in goal number four.
Almeida's experience and record (15 goals in 44 internationals) mean he is likely to get the nod ahead of Nélson Oliveira, who will again be an impact substitute. Even if the change has been forced, Almeida's inclusion gives holders Spain something more than Ronaldo to think about in defence.
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