Posted by Kirstie
After falling at the final hurdle, last weekend England crashed out of the UEFA Euro 2012 championship, losing on penalties to rivals Italy. After 120 minutes of nail-biting tension, the dream of English glory in Kiev was over. Now, only 4 teams remain in the fight for European victory. Spain, Portugal, Italy and German will battle it out over the next two nights, before competing in the Euro 2012 final on Sunday.
Ahead of their games, we’ve pitched the teams’ home nations against each other in a mini ‘penalty shoot out’, to see who can claim to be European champions of the short break stakes! There are three categories where the countries can score points: Capital City, Cuisine, and Climate.
The first head-to-head sees Portugal take on Spain – who will be victorious?
1. Capital City – Lisbon vs. Madrid
Located on the western coast of Portugal, the capital city of Lisbon is known as ‘the city on seven hills’ and is one of the oldest cities in the world, with a history that goes back beyond that of other European capitals including London, Paris and Rome. Rich in architecture with fine examples of Romanesque, Gothic and Baroque styles, the city boasts an array of museums and monuments, as well as two UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The Jerónimos Monastery and the Belém Tower are considered icons of the city and date back to the 16th Century.
Similarly rich in history, with a myriad of monuments, historic buildings and museums, Madrid lies at the heart of Spain and is considered one of the top European destinations for art lovers. Madrid’s famous Golden Triangle of Art along the Paseo del Prado is made up of the Prado Museum, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía and the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum. The Prado Museum is one of Madrid’s major attractions and is one of the most visited museums in the world. The museum’s collection currently comprises around 7,600 paintings and features works by Europe’s most important artists, including Goya, Velázquez, El Greco, Rubens, Titian and Hieronymus Bosch.
Winner: Madrid (Spain)- I haven’t yet been to the Prado Museum in Madrid but it is home to some of the top paintings on my ‘to see before I die list’, including Velázquez’s Las Meninas and Rubens’ The Three Graces, so Madrid wins hands down for me!
2. Cuisine – Salted Cod vs. Paella
Both Portugal and Spain are renowned as destinations for delicious food. Both nations’ culinary traditions rely on fresh local produce, with plenty of seafood being used in both Portuguese and Spanish recipes. While Portugal is the home of Piri Piri sauce (without which there would be no Nandos!), it’s salted cod, or Bacalhau, that is known as Portugal’s national dish. Often served with potatoes or in stews, it’s said that there are over 365 Portuguese recipes for salt cod, one for every day of the year!
In Spain, Paella is often regarded as the national dish. However, some still think of it as being representative of Valencia, where the dish originated. There are three main types of Paella; with meat including chicken, rabbit and duck; with seafood including prawns, squid and mussels; and with a combination of meat and seafood. Whatever ingredients Paella uses, this is a hearty traditional rice dish that captures the taste of the Mediterranean.
Winner: Paella (Spain) – I’m a big lover of seafood and can’t resist delicious Paella bursting with fresh prawns, mussels and squid. I even had Octopus in a Paella dish I tried on holiday – sounds scary but it tasted amazing!
3. Mediterranean Climate
As neighbouring countries, both Portugal and Spain share a similar climate, enjoying long warm summers with balmy temperatures often way above 30 degrees. With hour after hour of glorious sunshine, both Portugal and Spain are popular for a short break or a longer summer holiday.
There’s no winner here! – Both countries score points in this category as they’re both brilliant destinations for summer sun.
Totals: Spain 3 – Portugal 1
So after three rounds of close competition, Spain has come out on top as the perfect destination for a short break this summer, with Paella and the Prado Museum tipping the scales in the Spanish favour. All that’s left to determine is who will win the football game this evening! Who are your bets on?