Euro 2012 Preview: Portugal

Euro 2012 Preview: Portugal
Paulo Bento
Runners Up 2004
2nd in Group H (Won playoff)
3 (May 2010)
43 (Aug 1998)
20/1 (totesport)
June 9th – Germany (1945 BST, Lviv, BBC)
June 13th – Denmark (1700 BST, Lviv, ITV)
June 17th – Holland (1945 BST, Kharkiv, BBC)

Two poor results in the first two qualifying games inspired the powers that be in the Portuguese FA to replace Carlos Queiroz with Paulo Bento.Results immediately improved with the Portuguese winning the next five but a 2-1 defeat to Denmark saw them consigned to a play-off, a goalless draw in Bosnia was followed by a 6-2 annihilation which saw a ticket to Euro 2012 booked.The pleasing thing from a Portuguese point of view was the fact that other players took some of the attacking burden off talisman Cristiano Ronaldo.Two notable players will not be representing Portugal at Euro 2012 however, Ricardo Carvalho’s strop at being named as a substitute against Cyprus has seen him cast into the wilderness, Jose Bosingwa also misses out after complaining about not starting against Argentina in a friendly (Bento had accused him of faking injuries to get out of friendly matches) – needless to say it showed that Bento won’t take any nonsense.Sporting Clube de Portugal’s Rui Patricio will start between the sticks with Pepe having moved back to the centre of defence after playing in a holding midfield role under Queiroz, his partner in the heart of the Portuguese defence will more than likely be Zenit’s Bruno Alves.

Bosingwa’s replacement is likely to be Joao Pereira but he hasn’t shown the standard that Bosingwa has as of yet.

Portugal will more than likely play a 4-5-1 system (or 4-3-3 depending on how you look at it) – the midfield does look strong with Miguel Veloso the deepest lying midfielder with Joao Moutinho and Raul Meireles in advanced roles, no full back will relish dealing with Nani or Cristiano Ronaldo and Helder Postiga is far more of a danger internationally than he is at club level.

Postiga’s place could be under threat however by Benfica’s Nelson Oliveira.

At the tender age of 20, Oliveira’s only played a handful of games for Benfica but managed to find the net on his Champions League debut.

Although still inexperienced Oliveira has shown signs that in the long term he can take over from Helder Postiga as the spearhead of the Portuguese attack.

Qualifying was hardly a breeze but replacing the unpopular Queiroz proved to be good judgement. Bento has won the respect of the players and has not been afraid to make tough decisions such as casting Bosingwa and Carvalho to the international wilderness.He’s also managed to set up his team so there is not as much pressure on Cristiano Ronaldo to produce. The Real Madrid man is still key to his nation’s hopes and has been impressive for his club this season. Nani on the other side can also flatter to deceive at times.This is a tough group and Portugal also come in to Euro 2012 paired with a team that have already bettered them in qualifying in Denmark. They can on their day beat the best as a 4-0 win over Spain last November showed.

In any other group I’d have fancied Portugal to advance, not this one however.

Danny (D-Good)
Owls Alive
TWITTER: @OwlsAlive or @DGood83

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