June 12, 2012
Winless Portugese feeling heat
By Mike Zeisberger, QMI Agency
KHARKIV, UKRAINE - Sweltering temperatures here have reached 40 C at times during Euro 2012, but that's not the only reason Portugal has been feeling the heat.
A loss to 1-0 Denmark Wednesday will all but eliminate Cristiano Ronaldo and his teammates from the competition, adding to their dubious reputation of underachieving in international tournaments.
Portugal probably deserved a better fate than a 1-0 loss to Germany in the opener, carrying the play at times and generating a handful of scoring opportunities. But none of that matters in the Group B standings, leaving the Portuguese in dire straits against the upstart Danes, who posted a shocking 1-0 win over the Netherlands Friday.
"There is more pressure than before the match against Germany and on Wednesday we will be up against a tough opponent, so we shall have to impose our game from the outset," Portugese coach Paulo Bento said. "Denmark's situation is more comfortable, with less pressure on. Our strategy always is tailored to who we are playing. We will have to be ready -- there are 90 minutes and we have to win."
Having said that, Bento offered up his group a vote of confidence despite the fact it is still seeking its first goal of the tournament.
"We have no reason to be anxious. We lost our opening game to one of the favourites but we lost playing well. We didn't deserve to lose," Bento said.
But lose they did.
And now comes Denmark, a team the Portuguese have defeated just once in their previous four meetings. One of those losses to Denmark kept Portugal from automically qualifying for the tournament, forcing Bento's team into a playoff in order to reach the final 16.