in some depth in the chat that took place on Saturday. Questions on Portugal, England, and the other semi-finalists are all welcome.Good morning. Sid Lowe will be taking part in a webchat on all things Euro 2012-related from 12pm BST, ahead of tonight's first semi-final between Portugal and Spain. Please post your questions for him below. We're particularly keen to receive questions on issues other than Spain's shape and tactical line-up, which Sid covered
Sid has been delayed and will not now be joining us until 12:30pm or so - but please do keep posting questions for him below the line.
Due to unforeseen circumstances, Sid Lowe is unable to make it to an internet connection and take part in the webchat. Gamely stepping in is Paul Wilson, who will be online shortly. Thanks for all the questions so far.
from SonOfTheDesert: "With no Villa, Spain are going to have a big game where they fail to score pretty soon, right? It's inevitable. Trust me. Given that Portugal aren't too flimsy at the back, wouldn't tonight be the most likely time? And isn't the lack of Puyol potentially an issue for Spain too? Essentially, I want someone to agree with me about Portugal winning tonight."So, to get us underway, a question
I'll agree with you. Sorry I ain't Sid, I've been drafted in as a replacement at short notice, but I did see Portrugal in the tournament and they have a chance. Anyone with CR7 has a chance...
from doozler: "I know loads of people who find football as a whole boring, not just Spain. Do you think I should rant and rave at them until they realise how awesome football is?"And an evangelical question
Football can be boring, it just shouldn't be. I can understand people finding football boring if they have no interest in sport of any kind, but if they then turn round and say football is boring but rugby or cricket is superior I become very suspicious. Had I known I was going to be dragged into this webchat at short notice I would have made sure I had read Sid's article about Spain being boring first. But I didn't and I haven't.
For what it's worth, although I am by no means as regular a Spain watcher as Sid, I think football has to be careful not to allow itself to be turned into a totally non-contact sport. Encouraged by modern refereeing, Barcelona are playing something that is moving towards basketball, and taking Spain that way too. I prefer football to basketball, because it is less one-dimensional, or used to be. Tiki taka is making football just a little bit tedious and one-dimensional.
MarcoLondon asks: "Sid -- as you spent a lot of time in Ukraine recently, are you aware of any Non-White English fan not making it home? Also Why they paired the Germany QF with the Italy QF? Germany has been resting for a week????? Italy 48 hours (still expect Italy to go through anyway)"
I only spent a brief time in Ukraine, I was in Poland for longer, but in neither country was there anything to justify the fears of racial hatred or terrace violence that preceded the tournament. We all got that wrong, and probably owe Ukraine, especially, some kind of apology.
With regard to Germany resting for almost a week, that does seem strange. Italy have only had three days, and Prandelli has been complaining all along that they tire too quickly in games. England didn't exactly test that, but I'm sure Germany will.
Andy Carroll's goal, I think. I'm not saying it's the best goal, and it now appears all that English excitement was only because Sweden turned out to be such an ordinary team, but it was a terrific header and it was good to see Carroll getting the chance to show what he is good at. The commentator on Polish television didn't realise what had happened for a couple of seconds, he obviously wasn't expecting a header of such power and accuracy from so far out, so there were a few moments of dead air before he starting to say the ball was in the net. England could do worse than stick with Carroll. That goal might have been an unrepeatable one-off, but I think Hodgson should try and find out. Carroll and Welbeck could form a more effective partnership than Welbeck and Rooney.
Matt Stieglitz asks: "Paul, I think we can all assume that so far Andrea Pirlo has been the most outstanding player; but who from among the teams which have already been eliminated has stood out? I was impressed with Andriy Yarmolenko's performances for Ukraine, I certainly wouldn't mind having him in my club's starting eleven."
Yarmolenko has always been a good player, and of the eliminated teams I also liked Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Greece's Dimitris Salpingidis, Russia's Alan Dzagoev andCzech Republic's Petr Jiracek.
I don't know about it being Pirlo's tournament so far though. His Panenka penalty was sublime, but it is important to remember that Italy did not managed to score a goal in the preceding two hours of football against a poor and unambitious England. Italy are growing into this tournament, which is something they frequently do, but prior to the quarter-final most Italians thought their performances were unconvincing. Obviously Pirlo is a class act who can still cut it at the age of 33, but I wouldn't say he has towered over the tournament so far. If he towers over the Germans tomorrow I will happily change my opinion.
Mel84 predicts what'll happen in the semi-finals based on what he's seen so far:
"You know, in the game against Germany, Ronaldo was virtually invisible. The German defense was surprisingly good at keeping Ronaldo away from the game.
"I'm sure Spain will do the same tonight. Portugal can only win if they are organised and work as a team. We'll see what happens but I think Spain still will be favourite. They will not give Portugal the chance to dictate the pace and then Portugal is in trouble.
"Same will happen with Italy against Germany. Against England they had all the space and time in the world to make their play, decide on their pace pretty unchallenged by England. That won't happen on Thursday. It'll be a tough and even game for both sides. We'll see how Italy reacts when Germany denies them the chance to dictate the pace. It'll be interesting and pretty tense."
Ronaldo did not have a particularly good game against Germany, it is true. But he was exceptional against Holland and pretty much ran the Portugal show against the Czechs. Portugal have other good players, don't get me wrong, but he CR7 provides the cutting edge they need. I think you have to say Spain are favourites tonight on account of their results and their recent record, but the one thing they lack, if they are not going to go with Torres, is a dynamic goalscorer, the sort of individual who can turn a game in his side's favour. Portugal have that, and that's why I say theu have a chance. I don't think Ronaldo will lack motivation, and now he seems to be playing with confidence.
I agree with your last par. I think England made Italy look good, maybe a bit better than they actually are. The game against Germany will be completely different.
Beabears asks: "If you had to pick a back four from the tournament so far who would make it? The Portuguese center back partnership have been good to date, Terry had a good tournament although England played a style that maximises his talents, Lahm has been good again. Has anyone else caught your attention?"
Glen Johnson at right back, no wait...Lahm at right back, Coentrao at left back, with Hummels and Pique in the middle. Lahm is very consistent and he can play both full back positions.
nigelcs asks: "Hi Paul. If Spain win these Euros, they would be the first nation to have won 3 major tournaments in a row. Where would they rank among the greatest teams of all time?"
Well, that would make them officially the greatest, since not even Brazil have managed that (although direct comparisons between Europe and South America are not particularly valid). Certainly the greatest European team of all time, and they would probably deserve that, although in actual fact people still probably have a greater regard for certain Italian and German sides with a bit more variety to their play and a good deal more derring-do.
But the greatest team of all time was Brazil 1970. No one really comes close.
SpinningHugo asks: "Only one question today, surely. Can CR7 do it?"
I agree. That is today's only question. If the result goes Portugal's way, it could easily become the question of the tournament.
Matt Stieglitz asks: "Do you foresee any more penalty shoot-outs? And if so, in which matches? I'd imagine that Portugal would be the most vulerable, as they are the only team left without a truly top-class goalkeeper."
I don't actually, since you ask. I think tonight's teams will both be trying to score, and so will Germany tomorrow. That doesn't mean I think Italy will be playing for penalties, I doubt if they would willingly sign up for another two hours of football. So far only England, Greece and maybe Czechs have looked as though they were playing for penalties, and only England got that far.
A futuristic prediction from Cyrano1202: "Spaniards will win 1:0 tonight. They are robots. Robots with no sense of humour."
I think that's going a bit far. They play very good football, and have developed a style that is hard to counter. They are not quite as easy on the eye as Barcelona, mainly because they lack the Messi factor up front, but that doesn't make them robots. And 1-0 is enough, isn't it? There's nothing in the rules that says you have to score a second or a third once you get your nose in front.
Matt Stieglitz has the big question: "Who has the best hairstyle of the tournament?"
Is this ambush marketing? Has CR7's hair-gel company paid you to ask that?
Chrislina asks: hey Paul, Who are you supporting?
Well now that would be telling, wouldn't it. Particularly as I am supposed to be keeping a professional distance and neutrality and all that. But I would like to see Portugal get past Spain, just to make a refreshing change, and I have preferred the way Germany have played so far to the way Italy have played. So you could say I am in favour of a Portugal-Germany final. Watch it turn out to be Spain vs Italy now...
And Paul signs off:
I am also in favour of Sid Lowe making a comeback as soon as possible to answer complicated questions about Spain. I've done my whack now, thanks for all the questions and apologies to anyone I didn't get round to answering. Next time it really will be Sid, and that's a promise.
Thanks for all the questions, and to Paul Wilson for stepping into the breach. For all the latest build-up to tonight's match, head over to our Euro 2012 live blog.