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Portugal ready for Dutch onslaught

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REUTERS

Portugal expect Netherlands to launch waves of attacking play as they try to qualify for the next stage of Euro 2012.

Kharkiv, Ukraine – Portugal coach Paulo Bento says that although his team will not seek to play on the counter-attack against the Netherlands on Sunday, they must be prepared to withstand periods of pressure.

Portugal go into their final Euro 2012 Group D encounter at Kharkiv's Metalist Stadium needing to better Denmark's result against Germany in the other group match in order to be sure of a place in the last eight.

Holland, meanwhile, must win by two clear goals and hope the Danes fall to Germany in Lviv to stand any chance of progressing to the quarter-finals.

The onus therefore falls on Bert van Marwijk's side to take the initiative and Bento has warned his players that they will need to remain focused during the inevitable moments when their opponents are on the attack.

“In a well-balanced group like this, you cannot dominate a game for 90 minutes,” he said at Saturday's pre-game press conference.

“What we're trying to be is the team that makes the most opportunities, and we have shown that in our games against Germany and Denmark.

“It's about not losing your identity on the pitch. We suffered adverse situations in both those games (a 1-0 loss to Germany and a 3-2 win over Denmark), but we never lost our confidence.”

He added: “We know what Holland's strategy will be from the start. You see it with all Dutch teams. They like to have the ball and control the game.

“But this doesn't mean we have to rely on counter-attacks. We have to try to control the game, not only in terms of our defending but also by having possession of the ball and looking for shots at goal.

“We want to win the game and take the three points, and then we'll see what happens.”

The situation at the top of the group means that Portugal's supporters will be keeping a close eye on matters in the other game, but Bento said his players would not necessarily be kept abreast of what was happening in Lviv.

“We won't worry about the other game – we'll be 100 percent focused on our game,” he said. “If we think it will benefit the players to tell them about what's happening in the other game, we will do it.”

After losing their opening game to Germany, Portugal got their campaign back on track against Denmark on Wednesday when Silvestre Varela's 87th-minute winner secured a last-gasp 3-2 victory.

Holland, by contrast, are staring at group-stage elimination at a Euro for the first time since 1980, having been shocked 1-0 by Denmark in their opening match before falling 2-1 to Germany on Wednesday.

The last meeting between the sides at a major tournament saw Portugal emerge with a 1-0 win from a bruising last-16 encounter at the 2006 World Cup in which a record 16 cautions and four red cards were handed out.

Centre-back Bruno Alves, who made his international debut the following year, says his side will be prepared if the Dutch resort to similar tactics.

“We are ready for anything,” he said. “We are well prepared and we have trained a lot. Now we're only focused on playing the match and winning it.” – Sapa-AFP


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