"If you look at each turning point in the eurozone crisis, Italian and Spanish (bond) yields always move together. I cannot imagine a scenario where Spain needs help to fund its deficits and Italy does not. They're glued together in market dynamics," Rondorf said.
PORTUGAL: Accelerating in reverse
While many analysts have already written off Greece, they look on Portugal as the next big fight the eurozone's defenders must win to stop investor panic from spreading to Spain and Italy.
"The Greek economy is the equivalent of sub-Saharan Africa," Trinity College's Gurdgiev said. "It's grossly underdeveloped, never had an industrial age and its agriculture is very inefficient. It's truly in the periphery.
"But Portugal is deeply hard-wired through Spain and France into the eurozone economy. It matters," he said.
Portuguese unemployment is more than 14 percent. The Bank of Portugal estimates the country's GDP fell 1.6 percent last year and will drop a further 3.1 percent this year.
Portugal and its more than €160 billion national debt were bailed out in May 2011 by the EU and International Monetary Fund with a three-year credit line of €78 billion ($103 billion). Portugal's government insists it will reassure investors enough to resume medium-term borrowing on bond markets next year.
The bailout terms commit Portugal to deep austerity cuts, trimming government deficits from 2010's level of 9.8 percent to 3 percent by 2013. Its debt-to-GDP ratio that year is forecast to reach at least 106 percent.
And as in Spain, Portugal's private debt figure — 248 percent of GDP — suggests a country of tapped-out credit cards and struggling mortgages that yet could fuel its own banking crisis.
Few analysts believe Portugal's austerity push will do anything other than exacerbate its recession. They argue that Portugal should seek to renegotiate the austerity goals of its first bailout immediately and admit that, if it isn't given more breathing room, a 2013 bailout is inevitable.
Gurdgiev said Portugal would need to reach around 4 percent growth to avoid a second bailout but, under current deficit-cutting requirements, would be extremely fortunate to reach 1 percent growth in 2013.
"Even at 1 percent growth, Portugal is still dead," he said.
IRELAND: Exception to the rule?
That leaves Ireland as the EU's case study of how to grow an economy in the depths of austerity.
Ireland was the first EU country to face a debt crisis when, in 2008, creditors realized just how exposed its six domestic banks were to a property market even more overheated than Spain's.
As the U.S. credit crisis went global, the Irish government took a huge gamble by promising to guarantee to repay its banks' foreign creditors in the event of default. The promise failed to reassure investors and, by 2010, five of the country's six banks were effectively nationalized at a cost that destroyed Ireland's own credit rating. Ireland's deficit surged that year to an EU-record 32 percent of GDP and the country was forced to negotiate a €67.5 billion ($90 billion) bailout.
The property market that roared for more than a decade has left ghost estates of half-developed ruin, most of which are now state-owned "assets."
And even though Ireland has already transferred the banks' biggest toxic loans to government books, the country still suffers by far the worst rate of private debt in Europe: €500 billion ($650 billion), or 340 percent of GDP, in a country of barely 4.5 million.
Despite five austerity budgets since late 2008, Ireland still expects to impose at least four more. It has used the bailout funds to recapitalize the banking sector, but banks remain loath to lend into an economy where unemployment remains stubbornly over 14 percent.
The banks' reluctance is colored by their fear that Ireland faces a new wave of home loan defaults. Bank of Ireland — the only institution to avoid nationalization — says 55 percent of the properties on its mortgage books are worth less than what customers still owe, and nationally about 10 percent of mortgage-holders are in default on their payments. Both trends are forecast to worsen this year.