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Semi-final memories: Spain

Holders Spain are aiming to become the first team to win three consecutive major tournaments, but Vicente del Bosque’s charges will have to overcome Iberian neighbours Portugal in the first UEFA EURO 2012 semi-final in Donetsk in order to keep that dream alive. UEFA.com asked three of La Roja’s heroes of semi-finals gone by to share their memories of their own last-four triumphs.

17/06/1964 Spain 2-1 Hungary (Madrid)

Luis Suárez: It was a good team but possibly not one of the best Spain has had. We played well together, though. We were very compact and the players understood and complemented each other very well, partly because they came from very few different teams. Then there was one player with a lot of international experience – me! I was the oldest player and I was already playing abroad. We had great support from the Spanish people. The fans identified with us a lot, maybe also because it was a very young team which was willing to achieve something. And that helped us a lot; it gave us plenty of calm within the team, and they actually took the pressure away from us.

24/06/1984 Denmark 1-1 Spain (aet, Spain win 5-4 on pens) (Lyon)

Emilio Butragueño: Everything was so new to me that maybe I didn’t quite appreciate the importance of that game. It’s only after several years have passed that you appreciate how difficult it is to get as far as the semi-finals of the European Championship. I think that match was played in Marseille and I remember feeling happy for my colleagues who had made a supreme effort but, as the youngest and newest member of the squad, I still hadn’t settled into the atmosphere of top-level professional football.

26/06/2008 Russia 0-3 Spain (Vienna)

Iker Casillas: That result [4-1 in the group stage match between the two] did not quite reflect what happened on the pitch. Russia created chances. I seem to remember that we were winning 1-0 and they had a chance on the right-hand side, which came towards the left side in my goal. They hit the post twice, one was a free-kick and the other one was a shot. We scored our second goal in the next move. 4-1 was too much. I do not think that was a fair result. Russia deserved more and they could have done a lot better. That match was very useful for us when it came to the semi-final, to know that Russia were not as bad as people were saying. In fact, they swept to victory when they played the Netherlands. But then when we faced Russia in the semi-final, we played very well.

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