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Adrian Houghton believes Portugal's chances against reigning champions and neighbours Spain should not be quickly dismissed, particularly if one looks at history

OPINION
By Adrian Houghton

The Euro 2012 all-Iberian encounter has Spain installed as red-hot favourites.

But if history is anything to go by, one might be wondering why.

With Portugal subject of a 'one-man' tag over recent days, pundits and commentators appear to have forgotten to glance over their stats sheets.  

Naturally, reporters struggle to look past the dazzling performances of Real Madrid ace Cristiano Ronaldo as the sole reason for Portugal's progression into the last four.  

Spain will be wary of this threat, and the reigning European and world champions should not be drawn into the conjecture over Portugal's strength and limitations.

If we cast our minds back nearly two years ago, Paulo Bento [pictured right] can gain heart and motivation from an unlikely evening.

It was a moment Spain's previously irrepressible aura was tarnished and why they must treat their neighbours with the utmost respect. 

On November 17, 2010, in Lisbon, Portugal crushed newly crowned World Cup winners Spain 4-0.

It may have been a friendly match, but many of Spain's first-team started on that embarrassing night.

Eight players likely to start for Spain against Portugal in Wednesday's semi-final were involved in the defeat.

It remains Spain's heaviest defeat since 1963.

And if Portugal is to defeat the might of Vincent Del Bosque's men, the result can be a great source of inspiration.

SPAIN v PORTUGAL: LAST FIVE MEETINGS

November 2010 0-4
Friendly, Lisbon
June 2010 1-0 2012 World Cup, Cape Town
June 2004 0-1
Euro 2004, Lisbon
September 2003 3-0 Friendly, Guimaraes
February 2002 1-1 Friendly, Barcelona
6 wins, 12 draws, 17 losses TOTAL [FROM 35 MEETINGS]
17 wins, 12 draws, 6 losses

The plot thickens further when you consider Spain have beaten their neighbours only twice in their last 12 meetings.

Although Bento and his players possess a favourable record, their opponents are heavily backed due to recent history.

Under the management of Del Bosque, they have won 31 out of 34 competitive matches.

Spain have kept a clean sheet in eight of their last knockout games in major finals and have conceded only one goal at Euro 2012 - fewer than any side.

With this in mind, Bento will understand the stern test of breaking Spain down, but it is certainly not beyond his men.

What he would give to emulate that night in Lisbon and lead Portugal one step closer to a maiden European championship triumph.

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