How would you describe the mood in the camp going into the Euros?
We have an amazing group, very strong, where everyone gets along well. We only have one group with all the players – there are no cliques. We all fight for each other and we all play, chasing the same goals.
So what do you think of the group you’re in?
We are the in the group of death, together with other candidates to win the Euros. Holland are World Cup finalists, Germany are one of the best teams in the world now and Denmark are also very tough opponents, with good players.
Which teams do you count as the favourites to win?
Spain, Germany, France, England, Holland – and us, of course.
Some people have said the Euros is more difficult to win than the World Cup. What do you think?
I don’t agree with that. In Europe we have some of the best teams but we can’t forget other teams like Brazil, Argentina and some others, who are always very tough and create many problems.
What do you think of England’s chances this time?
I believe England have, as in recent years, a team with top players. But I recognise that they haven’t been very happy in recent tournaments.
Are there any young players who might be in your squad that we should keep an eye out for?
Maybe Nelson Oliveira. He’s a player with huge qualities, but very young and he still has a lot of growing to do. He just needs experience and gameplay; chances to play to become better and better.
From an individual point of view, what are your own ambitions heading into the tournament?
My personal ambition is just to win the title, which is something we have been chasing for many years now. But we are in a very tough group and it won’t be easy at all.
How important is Cristiano Ronaldo to Portugal? How important is it that the rest of you take the attacking pressure off him?
He’s a very important player, of course – he’s one of the best in the world – but I don’t think there is pressure on him because he’s used to these games. All the players live to play in important competitions.
Having qualified through the play-offs and being in the so-called group of death, is the pressure off Portugal? Could this work to your advantage?
Yes, it’s the group of death. But we knew we wouldn’t have any easy games because the best teams in Europe are there. These will be our opponents and it’s against them that we must fight and show our best. It’s the only way to achieve our objective.
Interview by Sergio Krithinas.From the June 2012 issue of FourFourTwo.
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