Action from the Euro 20120 qualifier were Portugal beat Denmark 3-1
Portugal will be desperate for a win when they play Denmark tomorrow, 13th, but with the Danes in great form the match is sure to be a fight, especially as Denmark finished above the Selecção in Euro qualifying.
This year has not been kind for the Portuguese so far with no wins and just one goal from four matches – not the desired form to be in during a major championship year. Paulo Bento’s men did hit the post twice against Germany last weekend as they chased the game but the failure to take those chances will do little to boost what is perceived as brittle confidence, especially without a recognised playmaker through the middle. The Portuguese reportedly dedicated a training session earlier this week to target practice but will that have the desired effect?
Paulo Bento had his tactics criticised after the Germany game but Portugal’s boss is still sure his team can respond to their unpromising position.
“I continue to think we can get through. We’re in a difficult situation but we have been here before,” he said. “We lacked a greater capacity in the final third of the pitch against Germany, particularly in the first half, but our strategy remains to be strong all round, not to rely on counter-attacking.
“We’ve only won one of the last four against Denmark but we don’t dwell on past games. This is another time, with different preparations and in different circumstances. Denmark are in a more comfortable position.”
Nicklas Bendtner and Michael Krohn-Dehli, the Danish hero from their surprise win over the Netherlands at the weekend, both have previous against Portugal, each scoring in the Danes’ 2-1 qualifying win in Copenhagen last October that condemned Portugal to a play-off to reach the finals. That night the host’s game plan – shutting Cristiano Ronaldo out – succeeded and they will be looking to do exactly the same again in Lviv.
The Danes, written off by most before a ball was kicked in the group, demonstrated last Saturday they thrive when given the little guy status.
Goalkeeper Stephan Andersen, who excelled against the Dutch revealed: “We still look at ourselves as underdogs… that’s what we’ll be in the next two matches.” Victory for Morten Olsen’s men would really put the cat amongst the pigeons in the so-called Group of Death and place the Danes on the verge of qualification for the quarter-finals.
Portugal head coach Paolo Bento could replace the misfiring Helder Postiga with either Hugo Almeida, who has recovered from flu, or hand 20-year-old Nelson Oliveira his first start.
Winger Ricardo Quaresma has overcome a leg muscle strain and could feature.
Denmark look set to call up Michael Silberauer to man-mark Cristiano Ronaldo, as he did during the Danes home qualifying win over Portugal.
Left-back Simon Poulsen is expected to make way in a formation reshuffle.
- Since Morten Olsen’s debut as Denmark coach in August 2000, the Danes have won three out of five matches with Portugal and only lost one.
- Up until that point Portugal had won six of the first seven meetings between the countries. In total Portugal have won seven of 12 total official encounters compared to Denmark’s three.
- Portugal have scored in all of their 12 previous meetings – matches that have averaged 3.5 goals per game.
- Denmark have won five successive competitive matches for the first time since Sep2008-Jun 2009. Victory would see them record six straight wins for first time since Jun-Nov 1999, and for a first time under Olsen.
- The last team to beat Denmark in a competitive match were Portugal, a 3-1 qualifying defeat Lisbon, in October 2010.
- If selected, Nicklas Bendtner will win his 50th Danish cap. He has scored one goal in each of his four previous matches against Portugal and has never lost a match against them (three wins, one draw).
- Portugal have lost their last three European Championship matches – their longest ever run of defeats in the tournament.
- Paulo Bento’s first match as Portugal head coach came in the 3-1 home victory over Denmark in October 2010.
- Portugal have never failed to advance beyond the group stage before at five previous European Championship finals tournaments where group stages have been contested.