Group B: Portugal – It's Not All About Him, You Know...

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Back of the Net continue their light-hearted Euro 2012 preview. This afternoon, John Foster on a team looking to prove they can be more valuable than the 'Golden Generation': Portugal... 

After stuttering in the early stages of qualification under Carlos Queiroz - widely derided as a poor man’s Mike Phelan - Portugal, now under the charge of Paulo Bento, are expected to face an uphill struggle to overcome the Netherlands and Germany, but a downhill saunter to beat Denmark.

Tournament pedigree
This is Portugal’s fifth consecutive appearance at a European Championships, though the team has never won any major international silverware. During the so-called ‘golden generation’ of the early 2000s, Portuguese players were considered attractive and a valuable investment, but many were also criticised for being dense and unreactive, and prone to dissolving when immersed in mercury.

Coach Paulo Bento has some work to do in deciding how best to deploy a squad made up entirely of deep-lying playmakers. Saturday’s friendly clash with Macedonia may see all eleven players deployed ‘in the hole’, between the area usually called midfield, and the place where the strikers would be had Portugal managed to produce a decent one since Eusebio.

Man to watch
It is hard to look beyond egocentric Real Madrid megastar Cristiano Ronaldo, mostly because of his insistence on standing four steps closer to the camera than any of his colleagues during team photos. Throughout his career, Ronaldo has irritated fans and opponents alike with his selfishness, his narcissism, his gamesmanship, and, most infuriatingly of all, his astonishing natural ability that countless times has seen him turn defeat into victory all by his sickening self.

National Anthem
Over the last few years, onetime anthem A Portuguesa has been replaced at football matches with 1988 smash hit Suedehead, by lugubrious ex-Smiths frontman Morrissey. At the 2010 World Cup, many players were attacked by the Portuguese media for not knowing the words, with daily newspaper O Jogo publically wondering whether players like Fábio Coentrão even possessed a copy of Bona Drag.

Worth a bet?
Both Portugal and group-stage opponents Germany have been involved in some high-scoring, logic-defying thrillers over recent years. You can get 2/1 on there being more than 2.5 goals, 3/1 on there being more than 3.5 goals, and 5/1 on there being exactly 4.5 goals.

More from Back of the Net
Group A: Poland • Russia • Greece • Czech Republic
Group B: Netherlands
• Germany • Portugal • Denmark
Group C: Spain • Italy • Croatia • Republic of Ireland
Group D: Ukraine • England • France • Sweden