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Wednesday, 06 June 2012 13:51

Portugal at the European Championships

2008 - Scolari’s farewell

Pepe Celebrates Turkey GoalIn the final instalment of our series looking back at Portugal’s past performances at the European Championships, we move on to the tournament that marked the end of the Luiz Felipe Scolari era.
 
Although Portugal conceded the fewest goals (10) and scored the most goals (24) in their group, the Selecção finished runners-up in their Euro 2008 qualifying section behind Leo Beenhakker’s Poland. It proved enough to book a place in the tournament held in Switzerland and Austria. The nervy goalless draw in the final match at home to Finland allowed Luiz Felipe Scolari to guide Portugal to their fourth consecutive European Championships.
 
And when the draw threw up Turkey, the Czech Republic and Switzerland, hopes were high of another good run, four years after ending as runners-up.
 

Strong emotions

The arrival of the Selecção at Geneva airport was a momentous occasion. The intensity of the welcome given by the huge Portuguese emigrant community residing in Switzerland was not limited to the airport. All the way along more than one hundred kilometres of motorway to Neuchâtel, there was not a single bridge or village that was not brandishing a multitude the Portuguese flags, and tireless cheers of encouragement rang out for the representatives of a nation.
 
Such scenes would be repeated two years later in South Africa, proving that football unites this nation and its far-flung diaspora like nothing else.
 
And the fanatical supporters had plenty to cheer about in the first two matches, both in Geneva. A conclusive 2-0 victory over Turkey got the Selecção off to a perfect start. Only the woodwork and an offside flag prevented a thrashing as the Turks had no answer to Portugal’s intricate passing game. Pepe opened the scoring after a wonderful one-two with Nuno Gomes. An even better move ended with Moutinho spinning brilliantly to set up Raul Meireles for the second. Curiously, four years down the line, the same midfield duo will be at the hub of a revamped Portugal team in Ukraine and Poland.
 
Deco celebrates goal against Czech RepublicNext up was the Czech Republic. Goals by Deco, Cristiano Ronaldo and Ricardo Quaresma gave Scolari’s men a 3-1 win and guaranteed Portugal’s place in the quarter-finals, regardless of what happened in the final match in Basel, against the joint hosts, Switzerland.
 

Bombshell

But Portugal’s preparations for that game – and some would argue the rest of the tournament – were suddenly hit by a bombshell. Chelsea announced on their website that they had contracted Luiz Felipe Scolari as their new manager. The Brazilian, who had given so much to Portuguese football, would be leaving at the end of the Euro. Would it inspire the players to give him a fitting send-off? 
 
Scolari decided to rest nine first-teamers against the Swiss, and the fired-up hosts proved too strong, winning 2-0 in Basel. Portugal stayed at the same venue as they prepared to take on Germany for a place in the semi-finals.
 
Two early goals by Schweinsteiger and Klose put Portugal on the back foot, but Nuno Gomes, so often a scorer in big games for the Selecção, gave Portugal hope by pulling one back shortly before the break. Ballack’s headed goal after he had clearly fouled Paulo Ferreira was allowed to stand to restore the two-goal marging, and Postiga’s late strike could not save Portugal, who went down 3-2.
ballack-scores-portugal-germany-2008.jpg
Michael Ballack puts Germany 3-1 up against Portugal in Euro 2008 quarter-final.
It subsequently emerged that Ronaldo had been playing through injury (he had an ankle operation immediately after the tournament) and all in all it was a somewhat tame end to the Scolari era.

The Brazilian had had his critics throughout his time at the helm of the national team, but he was undoubtedly one of the chief architects behind Portugal’s longest period of sustained success and a man who did more than anybody to bring about a renewed affinity between the people and the Selecção.
 
by Tom Kundert

Related: Portugal at European Championships series

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Comments (7)
Tough but also good times
7 Friday, 08 June 2012 13:10
I really liked Scolari. He really brought the Portuguese nation together for the Seleccao. He urged everyone to cheer and cheer loudly. I think he brought patriotism to the forefront.

Scolari was also very transparent with the fans and media. He let everyone know how he felt towards a player, tactics, etc... Things didn't always go right, but we were in every tournament and were considered one of the favorites.

It really bothered me that Chelsea announced he was going to be their new manager. I did think it deflated the squad. The announcement should have been held until after the tourney.

I remember the match verse Germany and the anguish. I'm not for one in believing in conspiracy theories, but that match had me going crazy.
Scolari
6 Thursday, 07 June 2012 10:55
Scolari was partly at fault for the media circus he created by signing for Chelsea during the Euro's.

This would have affected the players, knowing he wouldn't be their coach after the tournament, and it would have distracted them. Portugal have never handled the media well..
Scolari
5 Thursday, 07 June 2012 09:18
I loved Scolari as the coach of this team and i feel we let him go a bit too soon. However, the reality is, Scolari had way more tools at his disposal than Bento does now.
Lessons From 2008
4 Wednesday, 06 June 2012 21:51
The German team manhandled and physically over powered a naive Portugal defending team.

All three German goals were due to poor defending, lack of athleticism, and inability to defend crosses.

I named this trio: Paulo Ferreria, Petit, and Ricardo, the moniker "The Axis of Doom". These three players performed poorly and have been replaced.

We have replaced Paulo F and Ricardo with better players though crosses are still a problem. Petit has been replaced by Veloso but not sure if Veloso is up to the physical challenge. This a better German team than 2008.

It is a simple game, it will come down how well we deal with crosses and the Germans off the ball movement. One can not ball watch and allow the Germans to make open runs into space.
Germany game
3 Wednesday, 06 June 2012 16:04
Germany's first goal, if I recall correctly was a swift attacking move down the left wing. Bosingwa failed to stop Podolski's cross and Schweinsteiger easily beat Ferreira to score past a helpless Ricardo.

Their second goal was from a Schweinstiger free kick. Klose headed it in past Ricardo. The third goal was also off a Schweintsteiger free kick and as mentioned, Ballack pushed Ferreira.

Germany completely man-handled Portugal on set-pieces, and this still remains our defense's biggest weakness. Therefore, we could really use Custodio for his excellent aerial ability.

Hopefully we'll get our revenge! I think that our team currently is much better than it was 4 years ago. Petit was often way out of position, Ricardo, Bosingwa, and Ferreira were all big liabilities. And, Ronaldo and Nani have definitely improved over the last four years.
That Ballack Goal
2 Wednesday, 06 June 2012 15:40
Ballack's goal should have been disallowed!!! it pisses me off that they beat us in 06 and 08 due to stop goal keeping mistakes and a freakin clear foul!!!
The transition
1 Wednesday, 06 June 2012 15:02
This was the hybrid year of the 06 team to the team we have today. I believe the seleccao are stronger then they were in 2008. The way thy lost to Germany really was sour though. It is time to get revenge for this!