Portugal boss Fernando Santos predicts close battle against Poland

29 June 2016 09:23

Portugal boss Fernando Santos feels Thursday's Euro 2016 quarter-final against Poland is a "50-50" contest - but is confident it will be his side who emerge from it victorious.

Opposite number Adam Nawalka has said the Poles are "full of faith and optimism" as well as hunger ahead of the game in Marseille as they look to extend what is the nation's best-ever run at a European Championship.

Speaking at a subsequent pre-match press conference on Wednesday, Santos was keen to emphasise he regards Nawalka's men as a major threat and that neither team should be viewed as favourites.

But at the same time, he made it clear he sees Portugal getting through in the end.

"Poland have been growing and they are a very strong team," Santos said.

"Tomorrow will be a game between two very strong teams with very good players, both with the same goal - to move on, to be in the semi-finals. And my counterpart believes Poland will go through. But I believe we will go through.

"I think there are no favourites in this match. We are facing great opponents with great quality and I think this is a strictly 50-50 game.

"But I believe we are going to win."

It has been a mixed Euro 2016 so far for Portugal captain and three-time Ballon d'Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo, with him missing a penalty in a 1-1 draw against Iceland before registering his only goals to date with a brace in a 3-3 draw with Hungary.

The Real Madrid forward could well prove the difference for his country on Thursday - although Santos appeared to make a specific point of also mentioning Poland's star man Robert Lewandowski, who is yet to score at this tournament, on Wednesday as he spoke about the focus that is on "amazing" players like Ronaldo.

"Everyone is talking about him (Ronaldo) and there is a reason for that - because he is an amazing player," Santos said.

"It is normal to talk about a player as good as Cristiano, or Lewandowski, or (Germany goalkeeper Manuel) Neuer. They are amazing players so it is a natural thing.

"Some are mentioned more often than others. But Ronaldo knows how to deal with that."

Nawalka has stressed that for all Ronaldo's gifts, Portugal are not a one-man team, and Santos seemed to strike a similar note as he said: "In every game it is important every player plays their role, and that is what we are going to try to do again this time. It is the team that will win this match.

"Tournaments are won by teams and that is what our team is trying to do in every single match.

"They are very determined, they are very brave, they will try to put their talent into practice, and I believe in them."

Portugal - who drew all three of their Group F matches, with a 0-0 stalemate against Austria sandwiched between the Iceland and Hungary matches - reached the quarter-finals via a 1-0 last-16 victory against Croatia after extra time.

Source: PA