Can Spain stop Cristiano Ronaldo?

How Spain can stop the Portuguese sensation in the Euro 2012 semifinal

Originally Published: June 25, 2012
By Albert Larcada | ESPN Insider
Cristiano RonaldoFabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty ImagesCristiano Ronaldo has been a force to be reckoned with so far in Euro 2012.

With game-winning goals in Portugal's past two matches, let's get something out of the way: It's not easy to stop Cristiano Ronaldo. If it were, someone would have figured it out by now.

Ronaldo is arguably the most physically gifted soccer player in the world. His combination of size, speed and raw skill overwhelms defenders much the same way LeBron James does in the NBA. Funny enough, like LeBron, Ronaldo is starting to lose the perception of not being a big-game player in Euro 2012 just as James did in the NBA Finals this year. Ronaldo is tied for the tournament lead with three goals despite having four shots rattle off the woodwork. No other player has hit the post more than once.

With that disclaimer, Spain still might be one of the best-suited teams in the tournament to slow down the Portuguese forward. How can it pull off this feat Wednesday in the semifinal?

Albert Larcada is an Analytics Specialist in ESPN's Stats & Information group. Among other analytics projects, he maintains, advances and writes about ESPN's Soccer Power Index (SPI) algorithm.