Portugal go into their second Euro 2012 Group B game against Denmark knowing it’s do-or-die time if they wish to keep alive their hopes of qualifying for the quarter-finals of the tournament.
Paulo Bento’s Portugal side, led on the pitch by Real Madrid superstar Cristiano Ronaldo, lost out 1-0 to Germany in the opening match on Saturday, while the Danes’ shock win against one of the pre-tournament favourites, Holland, has only served to heap more pressure on them ahead of the kick-off in Lviv.
The Portuguese have fallen out of form at just the wrong time as they are yet to taste victory in 2012 with no wins in four matches, while they have only scored once in that time.
Bento will hope striker Hugo Almeida recovers from a bout of ‘flu in time to possibly replace Helder Postiga in attack following his lacklustre display against the Germans.
Winger Ricardo Quaresma has been passed fit after overcoming a leg muscle strain so the Portuguese should have more options available to them for the match.
Euro 92 winners Denmark, who were the least-fancied to progress from Group B, know another win will see them virtually book their place in the last eight.
Morten Olsen’s side were harshly disregarded as the whipping boys of the group going into the tournament when you consider that they finished as group winners when up against Portugal in both Euro 2012 and 2010 World Cup qualifying.
The Danes have also won seven of their last nine games, including a 2-1 qualifying win against the Portuguese last October, so the 1-0 win against the Dutch on Saturday finally made many sit up and take notice of them.
Olsen is boosted by the ability to name an unchanged side from that game against Holland and he will be hopeful that they can secure the win required to make it two wins from two games.
Denmark also have an Indian sign over the Portuguese as they have won three of their previous five meetings in as many years, while midfielder Michael Krohn-Dehli is the man to watch as the team have won all five internationals he has scored in.
Despite Ronaldo being Portugal’s talisman, it is Manchester United’s Nani who could hold the key as he has scored three times in four outings against the Danes.
It is certain to be a close game, but with Portugal seemingly up against it going into the showdown, we feel they will finally show why the likes of Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger tipped them to be the tournament’s dark horses.