Portugal to stick with tried and trusted

Portugal coach Paulo Bento will almost certainly keep faith with the same starting line-up when they face the Netherlands in their final Group B match at the Metalist Stadium on Sunday.

Portugal, who have advanced from the group stages ever since making their debut at the finals in 1984, recovered after losing 1-0 to Germany in their first match to beat Denmark 3-2.

They are looking to maintain their 21-year, eight-match unbeaten record against the Dutch who are without a point but could still reach the last eight if results go their way.

“"Our aim is not only to go through but to win the game," Bento told reporters, adding none of his squad were injured.

Portuguese media said he would almost certainly name an unchanged team for the fifth straight competitive match after their two playoff games with Bosnia and first two matches here.

Although Germany have six points, and the Dutch have none, all four teams are still in with a chance of qualifying.

The Netherlands must win by a two-goal margin against Portugal and hope Denmark lose to Germany in order to progress.

Portugal will reach the quarter-finals if they beat the Dutch unless Denmark beat Germany by a one-goal margin other than 2-1 or 1-0 in the other game.

They can also go through with a draw unless Denmark win and even if they lose by a one-goal margin and Denmark are beaten.


Bento dismissed suggestions Cristiano Ronaldo was suffering because he has not scored yet and the captain was laughing and joking when they trained at the Metalist Stadium on Saturday.

"“I have no worries about him at all," said Bento. "He has had two good matches - I have lost count of the number of goals he has scored for us. So he missed two chances against Denmark but he played well."

The only concern for Ronaldo is that he is one booking away from suspension - along with Fabio Coentrao, Helder Postiga and Raul Meireles - which would rule him out of a quarter-final.

Bento added that the Dutch would hold no surprises, saying: "“We know what their tactics will be. Dutch teams like to have the ball and dictate the game. They have always had a great technical quality but this cannot let us rely just on our counter-attacks - we need to possess the ball too," he said.

“"And I don't think the Netherlands have an advantage just because they've played here [Kharkiv] twice.

"We haven't been there yet, but those aspects won't have any influence. What matters is the effort put in, the tactics implemented and we have to be ready to sacrifice.

"We have already shown great defensive quality. We will try to counter-attack better and will fight until the end."

"Although the Netherlands haven't won yet, they deserve a lot of respect. They are very organised and have great quality.

"They have great pedigree and also can reach the quarter-finals. I'm a great optimist. I wouldn't be here otherwise."