Euro 2012: spotlight on Portugal
- Tue 05 Jun 2012, 1:42PM
- Posted by Mark Booth
Portugal were drawn in the tournament's group of death but don't bet against their survival, they have Cristiano Ronaldo...
Portugal are one of the competition’s most unpredictable sides. In qualifying they struggled at times, especially against Cyprus at home where they could only draw 4-4 and they were also defeated by Denmark who they’ll face in the second round of games in Group B.
Coach Paulo Bento favours a fluid 4-3-3, so expect there to be plenty of rotation in advanced areas, with Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani swapping wings to unsettle defences. Germany and Holland will both be cursing their luck for drawing them from pot three.
The City connection: Marcos Lopes and a Portuguese Europa League double-header
City have never had a Portuguese player representing them but one player hoping to be the first is Marcos Lopes, who joined the Elite Development Squad at the end of 2011.
“Rony” was feted as one of the continent’s most exciting young players when he made the switch from Benfica’s academy to Manchester. He has already appeared and scored for Portugal u-17s in his attacking midfield role where he possesses a sweet left foot and lightning pace.
The first team had a couple of dealings with Portuguese opposition in this season’s Europa League. City managed to overcome the holders Porto after parachuting out of the Champions League but were beaten by Sporting in the quarter-final, despite Joe Hart’s turn as centre-forward in the dying minutes.
Since taking over from Carlos Quieroz, Bento has overseen a period of transition in his time as Portugal coach. He has certainly reinvigorated the 2004 finalists who qualified at the expense of Edin Dzeko’s Bosnia after a dramatic 6-2 play-off win.
“Every team who makes the final phase of a tournament can dream of winning the title,” said Bento in the build-up to the tournament. With the wealth of attacking options available to him, you wouldn’t rule it out.
One to watch
Patricio was brought through at club level by Paulo Bento and one of the coaches’ first decisions was to install this talented keeper as his no.1.
It was Patricio who denied Joe Hart from a dramatic last gasp winner in this season’s Europa League quarter-final with an incredible finger-tip save.
It’s impossible to look past Cristiano Ronaldo as the key to Portugal’s chances in the Euros.
He finished in his traditional second place in the Ballon d’Or standings for having the misfortune to be alive at the same time as Lionel Messi but, as the man himself says, it’s impossible to compare a Ferrari and a Porche.
Ronaldo is a powerhouse, equally comfortable with both feet, an accomplished dribbler with explosive pace and a shot to match, on his day there’s simply no way to defend against him.
Odds via Paddy Power: 18/1
Goalkeepers: Rui Patricio (Sporting), Eduardo (Benfica), Beto (Cluj)
Defenders: Joao Pereira (Sporting), Bruno Alves (Zenit St Petersburg), Fabio Coentrao (Real Madrid), Pepe (Real Madrid), Ricardo Costa (Valencia), Rolando (Porto), Miguel Lopes (Braga)
Midfielders: Hugo Viana (Braga), Joao Moutinho (Porto), Miguel Veloso (Genoa), Raul Meireles (Chelsea), Ruben Micael (Zaragoza), Custodio (Braga)
Strikers: Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid), Hugo Almeida (Besiktas), Helder Postiga (Zaragoza), Nani (Manchester United), Nelson Oliveira (Benfica), Ricardo Quaresma (Besiktas), Silvestre Varela (Porto)
Coming up next: Czech Republic, Greece and James Milner's tournaments are put under the microscope in the next episodes of our Euro 2012 preview.
Come along and enjoy Euro 2012 at City Square, the only outdoor venue in Manchester showing the England matches. We are kicking off with England’s opening match against France on June 11, with City Square open from 2:30pm.
There will be free giveaways from the CityStore and EA, parking is free and The Summerbee Bar, Blue Moon Café and Star Bar will all be open.
Tickets are priced at £5 for adults and £3 for kids and are available now from the box office - advance purchase only.