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Tuesday, 03 July 2012 09:49

Euro 2012: PortuGOAL's conclusions

The PortuGOAL team reflect on an unforgettable tournament

portugoal-square-logo.jpgWith Euro 2012 having now officially come to an end, PortuGOAL looks back on an unforgettable three weeks of football in Poland and Ukraine. Each member of the team has picked their favourite moment and standout player, as well as running the rule over Portugal’s campaign and choosing their overriding memory, their star man, and pondering what needs to be done in the future.

So, what do you make of our answers? Feel free to let us know your thoughts on the comments section below.

 

Tom Clee (@tomclee13)

What will be your lasting memory of Portugal's performance at Euro 2012?
Probably their breakaway in the final minute of normal time against Spain, when for a few seconds it seemed as though Paulo Bento’s plan would be pulled off to perfection. Ronaldo’s shot flying over the crossbar perfectly summed up how fine the margins are between success and failure at this level.  

Who was Portugal's stand-out player?
Countless candidates but I'll go for Pepe. He committed just two fouls all tournament while marshalling the defence to perfection, proving that he is so much more than the niggly hatchet-man that many portray him to be.

Looking to the future, what do Portugal need to make further progress?
A settled team is commendable but Bento must use upcoming fixtures to give fringe players more experience, not least Nélson Oliveira who showed glimpses of the potential that could see him become the missing piece of the jigsaw.

What was your favourite moment of the tournament?
On a personal level it would have to be Danny Welbeck’s winner against Sweden. A superb goal to complete a great comeback, was this a new England? No. Professionally speaking though it would be Varela’s thunderbolt against Denmark, a goal that set up a wonderful few weeks writing about a memorable Portuguese campaign.

Who was the stand-out player at Euro 2012?
Jordi Alba had a near flawless tournament as part of a defence that conceded just one goal while providing pace and direct running to compliment Spain’s build-up play. His goal in the final was the perfect way to round off the summer for a player who will only get better at Barcelona.  
 


Richard Cole (@leoeslions)

What will be your lasting memory of Portugal's performance at Euro 2012?
Cristiano Ronaldo trying to do his one-man-team trick again (and mostly succeeding). His goal against the Czech Republic was an obvious example of that.

Who was Portugal's stand-out player?
Cristiano Ronaldo. Although João Moutinho takes a very well earned second place.

Looking to the future, what do Portugal need to make further progress?
There's still the huge gap where a striker should be. Hugo Almeida disappointed and Postiga was unlucky with injuries. Nélson Oliveira could do a job at some stage after he gets more experience but it's still a problem position for Portugal.

What was your favourite moment of the tournament?
Alessandro Diamanti knocking England out after being called a "West Ham reject" repeatedly by English commentary.

Who was the stand-out player at Euro 2012?
Andrea Pirlo. He's always been brilliant so it's no surprise but I feel this tournament was him at his very best. Having the support of De Rossi and Montolivo really freed him to play some beautiful football.

 

Victor Ferreira (@VicF77)

What will be your lasting memory of Portugal's performance at Euro 2012?
Portugal's performance at Euro 2012 will always be remembered as the competition where an underdog and what seemed to be a disjointed Seleccão, came together to impress and prove the pundits wrong. Unfortunately, their exit will be marked by an awful penalty kick selection from Paulo Bento.

Who was Portugal's stand-out player?
Continuing to take his game to a new level, João Moutinho proved, with his magnificent displays, that he truly is one of the best box-to-box midfielders in the world. He was the motor of the midfield as he created play and destroyed the opposition's attempts to do the same.

Looking to the future, what do Portugal need to make further progress?
Portugal need one thing to be a serious title contender: a striker. Reviving his career in the second division of England and scoring 22 goals between his time at Barnsley and West Ham, Ricardo Vaz Tê might be the missing link. Bento surely cannot continue to ignore the long-forgotten striker if he continues his goal-scoring form in the Premier League this year.

What was your favourite moment of the tournament?
When Nicklas Bendtner scored a brace to bring Denmark level with Portugal on two goals, the Selecção's hopes of qualifying for the knockout stages were hanging on by a thread. Silvestre Varela came into the game and scored one of the goals of the tournament to earn his country a victory. The emotion displayed from the players in their celebrations surely gave all Portuguese fans goosebumps.

Who was the stand-out player at Euro 2012?
Although he's receiving a little too much praise, Andrea Pirlo carried Italy on his shoulders on route to the final. Creating play from deep in the midfield, continuing to prove that he is still one of the best free-kick takers in the game, and of course, showing his class with the wonderful “Panenka” penalty that he scored against England should have earned him the title of player of the tournament.

 

Stephen Gillett (@StevieBvessels7)

What will be your lasting memory of Portugal's performance at Euro 2012?
My lasting memory will be of Ronaldo's fantastic header against Czech Republic; his hunger and desire to get on the end of Moutinho's cross was awesome - and typified Portugal's spirit and industry this summer.

Who was Portugal's stand-out player?
Ronaldo is Portugal's best player, but I thought Fabio Coentrão was consistently outstanding - his energy levels were fantastic and he linked defence and attack magnificently all tournament.

Looking to the future, what do Portugal need to make further progress?
They need to take the positives from this tournament and keep doing what they're doing. A few top players emerging to bolster Bento's options, between now and Brazil 2014, wouldn't hurt either.

What was your favourite moment of the tournament?
As an England fan, it was the comeback against Sweden. At 2-1 down, I thought we were going to fall flat on our faces, but Walcott and Welbeck scored two great goals to turn it round. That was as good as it got for the Three Lions during this tournament!
 
Who was the stand-out player at Euro 2012?
I'll go with Iniesta (though Pirlo was also fantastic). His touch, vision and technique are exceptional and, for me, he is Spain's main man. He picks up games by the scruff of the neck and even top, top players find it impossible to get anywhere near him.  It's scary that he's won so much, but is still only 28!

 

Tom Kundert (@portugoaldotnet)

What will be your lasting memory of Portugal's performance at Euro 2012?
The togetherness shown in every game without exception. We all know Portugal have incredibly talented players capable of individual brilliance but the way they worked for each other to overcome setbacks (falling behind to Germany and Holland, throwing away a 2-goal lead against Denmark, seeing chance after chance go begging agains the Czech Republic) spoke volumes about the spirit among the squad.

Who was Portugal's stand-out player?
João Moutinho. Disippated any doubt that he is among the world's best midfielders.

Looking to the future, what do Portugal need to make further progress?
Portugal need to maintain the team ethos shown at Euro 2012 and make it the norm rather than the exception. Finding a half decent striker would also help.

What was your favourite moment of the tournament?
Ronaldo scoring against the Czech Republic with Figo and Eusébio celebrating in the stands. Great to see the three greatest players in Portugal's football history sharing a moment of unbridled joy.

Who was the stand-out player at Euro 2012?
Cesc Fabregas. Superb in every game he played and my Man of the Match in the final.

 

Nathan Motz (@nathanmotz)

What will be your lasting memory of Portugal's performance at Euro 2012?
Hard to describe in such a short space, but here goes. I'll never forget the players' emotions when they came off the field after losing to Germany, Varela's winning goal against Denmark, and Ronaldo's wonderful performance against the Dutch. For me, there just isn't enough space to talk about this fairly.

Who was Portugal's stand-out player?
As I predicted before the tournament, Moutinho was the best in my opinion.  Masterful skill, unwavering determination, he had it all during this tournament and very much deserved at least one goal to his name.

Looking to the future, what do Portugal need to make further progress?
A finisher, this is obvious of course.  Portugal could also use some decent center backs to replace Pepe/Bruno Alves in a few years.

What was your favourite moment of the tournament?
Again, not enough room to talk about all of my favorite moments here, but if I had to pick one, I'd say the victory over the Dutch.

Who was the stand-out player at Euro 2012?
Andrea Pirlo had an exceptional tournament, but so did "Super Mario" Balotelli.  Ronaldo also had a great tournament in the end.  I'll say Ronaldo because I love Portugal and I'm biased. Sue me.

 

Vasco Mota Pereira (@CombinationPlay)

What will be your lasting memory of Portugal's performance at Euro 2012?
The match against Spain. An excellent reminder that a disciplined, organised and motivated team can make miracles happen (almost).

Who was Portugal's stand-out player?
I guess the answer to that question can only be João Moutinho, right?

Looking to the future, what do Portugal need to make further progress?
The short-term future seems well taken care of, but the pipeline looks a bit dried up. Getting youngsters more playing time on their clubs and re-thinking the younger national teams will be critical if we don't want to be next Czech Republic.

What was your favourite moment of the tournament?
Italy vs Spain. As it turned out, there will be two of those, to my huge satisfaction. The first one showed Spain's (few) chinks in their armour.

Who was the stand-out player at Euro 2012?
It has to be Pirlo. No one has singlehandedly exerted that much control over matches and their team.

 

Ben Shave (@benshave)

What will be your lasting memory of Portugal's performance at Euro 2012?
The collective nature of it. Going into the tournament the knock on Portugal was that they were essentially Ronaldo plus ten (or Postiga plus ten, if you're Paulo Bento - only kidding Hélder) - that notion has surely been knocked into the proverbial cocked hat, as we English say. The Selecção's run to the semi-final was not based on Ronaldo's ability to shine (although he did) but in their remarkable consistency as a team. But for a couple of moments, they were a brilliant combination of alertness and cool-headed composure. Except for Hugo Almeida in front of goal.

Who was Portugal's stand-out player?
Having just said that, their tournament wasn't based on Ronaldo...but he was pretty good, no? The captain's display against the Dutch was almost savage in its intensity, and when double-marked against the Czech Republic and Spain he still managed to provide a threat. At 27, and with 95 caps and 35 goals to his name, he is surely going to break both records (Luís Figo - 127 and Pauleta - 47) before all is said and done. Honourable mentions must go to Rui Patrício, Pepe and Fábio Coentrão.

Looking to the future, what do Portugal need to make further progress?
To avoid Spain in the draw for once? Apart from that, the two main problems are fairly clear-cut. The first is the absence of a creative midfielder in the mould of Deco, Rui Costa or going further back, Mário Coluna. To expect singular talents like those three to emerge on a consistent basis is perhaps unrealistic, but we're used to them now. For all of João Moutinho's dynamism, and the potential of André Martins and João Mário, there is not as much central midfield artistry flowing through the Selecção's various age groups as there once was.

The other issue is up front. Although Portugal's attacking thrust is provided by Ronaldo, Nani, Coentrão and during Euro 2012 João Pereira to great effect, neither Postiga (30 this August), Hugo Almeida (two years younger but a wasteful finisher) nor - dare I say it - young Nélson Oliveira possess the necessary qualities to rack up the goals at the highest level. Nélson has shown a cool eye in front of goal at Benfica, but unless Óscar Cardozo departs, he is realistically likely to be restricted to cameos for the next couple of seasons. That doesn't serve Portugal, though the success enjoyed by Salvador Agra and Rui Fonte's partnership at Under-21 level is promising.

What was your favourite moment of the tournament?
That sickening emotional jump from Varela's air shot to his picture-perfect finish less than a second later.

Who was the stand-out player at Euro 2012?
Andrea Pirlo. Magisterial.
 

Comments (9)
Portugal
9 Wednesday, 04 July 2012 19:34
My favorite memory of the tournament will be Ronaldo torching the dutch, that was awesome.

Stand out player well of course Ronaldo stood out, but my nod would go to Pepe Ronaldo was right in saying he's the best CB in the world because he sure played like it.

Portugal need a striker, an attacking midfielder playing centrally, and center backs to replace Alves and Pepe.

My favorite moment of the tournament was Ronaldo's 2nd goal against the dutch it was a great bit of skill shown by Ronaldo

The standout player of the tournament I would have to say was Pirlo. I've always admired Pirlo from his days at AC Milan he's the maestro of the midfield that Portugal certainly could use.
Lern From Champions
8 Tuesday, 03 July 2012 21:22
I think time is good for a opinion for all Portuguese fans out here.

Robert Lewandowski is the This past season bundesliga top score.Did he plaid in euro?.Yes he plaid for Poland.Such a quality striker even got more goals than Mario Gomes which we all know the best striker in the world right now. But Lewandowski did nothing for his country.why?Because Poland didn't have nether the good wingers nor the mid fielders to provide good enough crosses or through balls for him like when he at his club.
so this means the world class striker in your team alone will not guarantee you any success.i think current Portugal squad have more thane enough resources to win 2014 even with out a world class striker.
another thing to stop crying about lack of striker options please look what Spain did they even had 2 world class strikers but they didn't even use them for final.why?they know with out strikers they are more stronger with their unique style of play.
So my point is Portugal can do the same they can use Ricardo vaz te or any other upcoming talent for the ST position if they develop in to consistence performers for Selecção .If not fine use another good player who can create some thing up front out of nothing.it can be Danny,Varela or any other player which can be useful and suitable for our style of play.
Portugal's stand out player
7 Tuesday, 03 July 2012 18:23
Portugal's stand out player surely HAS to be Pepe. So much heart, drive and determination. His 'lapse' against Germany, turned out to be a fluke deflection off of Mountinho. Close seconds have to be Ronaldo & Coentrao. Ronaldo proved the haters wrong, and Coentrao always gave his all.

Moutinho behind those 3 Real Madrid players (there's a reason they play for the biggest club in the world). He wasn't up to their level, but he was
portugal's player to emerge from the tourney and raise his profile across europe.
Great Tournament
6 Tuesday, 03 July 2012 14:55
My lasting memory of Portugal this EURO will be Ronaldo's 2nd goal vs the Dutch. Finally proved his doubters wrong an put in his best game for the Seleccao.

For me it is Veloso. He was the most important player in preventing chances for our opponents by stopping the likes of Ozil, Eriksen, Sneijder and he somewhat slowed down Spain's attack.

Well a striker, another pair of solid centrebacks, and a new #10 would be nice. I'm hoping Betinho, Vaz Te and/or Oliveira can step up and be a goal poacher. Our u19 squad will be vital in supplying some new talent for the future.

My favourite moment would be either Shevchenko's brace vs Sweden or watching England go out on penalties again (sorry).

Standout player is Pirlo. A pleasure to watch him play.
What a tournament!
5 Tuesday, 03 July 2012 14:24
Great to read the thoughts of all the chaps at Portugoal.net. I've been supporting Portugal since Euro '96 (Yes I know, a Brit who supports another country's national side - send him to the gallows etc...) and for me, Euro 2012 has definitely been one of the highlights of the last 16 years (for all the reasons listed above). What a rollercoaster.

Moving forward, I think we are in fantastic shape for Brazil 2014 and I see us having a very real shot at the title, although no doubt the Selecção will first put us through the grinder during qualification!

Força!
My memories and thoughts
4 Tuesday, 03 July 2012 14:21
Wow, this was the Euros that I didn't expect.
The Seleccao looked awful in the lead up friendlies. They not only didn't work on different tactics they also didnt have any sense of urgency. But once the tourney started they were great.
Should have gotten the draw verse Germany and could have beaten Spain in regular time. Unfortunately my lasting memory will be the penalty shoot out verse Spain. Unlike others, I thought it was the right thing to do in keeping Cristiano 5th. If you take a look at most teams/managers, they all save the best for 5th. Drogba at Chelsea in the CL comes to mind, recently.

Portugals stand out player has to be Cristiano. Although he didn't see much of the ball verse Germany or Denmark, he occupied the defense plenty. He was masterful verse the Dutch and Czech's.
I know that people here have said Moutinho, but I just dont agree. I thought that he was excellent off the ball and in his movement. He does a ton that doesn't always show up in the stat sheet. I'll give you that. But he wasn't the attacking threat we needed. Moutinho also seems to be getting a pass for his penalty miss. He has to score there after Alonso misses. A meek attempt. In my opinion Veloso was just as superb. His positioning in covering and closing down was excellent. Maybe because my expectations for Veloso were lower, he seemed great to me. Pepe and Coentrao were also tremendous. Both cemented there value.

The future is actually a concern. People scream for a striker, but quite a bit of the squad is getting long in the tooth. I agree that our bench was non existent, which is why I thought maybe a few more newbies should have been included in the squad for the experience of the atmosphere. We have quality coming up the ranks, but it is untested.

My favorite moment was Cristianos goal verse the Czech's. It was great seeing all that work pay off.

Stand out player has to be Pirlo. Italy wasn't even tapped to get out of its group. Pirlo allowed Italy to play an offensive style that they haven't done in a long time. He was a liability defensively, but his vision, movement and precise passing was beautiful to watch. He was a one man "Spain/Barca" squad. Too much praise? Maybe. But Italy wouldn't have sniffed the final if not for him.
Reflections on the Euros
3 Tuesday, 03 July 2012 13:37
(*This is a re-post from earlier, as this is the conclusion article I was waiting to comment on. Sorry for the length, but there's clearly a lot to be said!)

All in all a superb tournament from us and what a great way to answer all the pessimism that many of our own fans showed in the build-up. I live in the UK, and pre-tournament I never once heard or read about Portugal being mentioned as one of the real contenders by the local press or public here. I remained quietly confident that we would do well and prove the doubters wrong since we always do best when we are not the favourites or are criticised (we are similar to the Italians in this way!)

I think Bento's handling of the team, tactics and his responce (or rather total lack of it) to the press criticism was spot-on. Remaining focused and motivated is the best way to get the best out of a quality group of players, and Bento proved he is the right coach to lead us for at least another 2 years. I'm still slightly gutted at how we went out to such a thin margin, as thin a margin as is possible to lose a football match...but more importantly I am proud of the great achievement by Bento and the whole team. We were the only team to put up a real fight to the eventual winners and we must take great heart from this.

What were the things I learned from this tournament? On a positive note, we showed great togetherness and unity in the face of adversity and pre-tournament criticism. In all the matches, regardless of the different tactics, all the players fought tooth and nail for the good of the collective, and almost every player gave his maximum. This is a great sign for the future and again is down to Bento and his approach.
Secondly, I was pleasantly surprised at how well we defended in the tournament. Defence was my biggest concern before the tournament, and particularly Rui Patricio and Bruno Alves. Alves was outstanding throughout, while Patricio despite being shakey in the group phase, proved in the knock out rounds that he is potentially a very good and dependable keeper and was fantastic against the Spanish. Pepe was the best centre-back at the tournament without question and Coentrao and Pereira were among the best full-backs.
Thirdly I was glad to see a real balance in this team, capable of playing solid and defending well and being tactically sound...while also capable of playing our natural game: attacking with flair. This balance was missing from previous Seleccaos (i.e Scolari's teams were often too rigid and predictable tactically while Queiroz' team was way too defensive and contrary to our natural approach). Bento looks to be on the way to getting the balance just right and appears to have instilled a greater mental toughness onto the players.

On a negative note, two main points: firstly a lack of squad depth which was shown with Bento always going with the same starting line-up. Perhaps these fringe players have to be given more playing time in upcoming friendlies and in the easier WC qualifiers we have coming up. We also have a bunch of young upcoming talent which should be tried out and given experience, and this could ensure a greater squad depth for the WC in 2 years time. Secondly, and most important of all, we still have same age-old problem/flaw: no class centre-forwards! This problem just hasn't gone away, and was the big difference yet again, with a class striker we could've won these Euros. Postiga is not bad and Nelson Oliveira may well turn into a class striker in time...but I have to say Hugo Almeida just doesn't have the quality to be a starting striker for the Seleccao, this is obvious now really, he tries hard but just doesn't have the ability to lead our attack. I think this is Bento's big challenge from now, to sort out our attacking problem by WC 2014.

I have thought of three possibilities that could be tried out in regard our attack: (1.) Continuing with our normal 4-3-3 with either Postiga or Oliveira supported by the two wingers. Against weaker defenses this could still be effective for us. (2.) A three-prong fluid attack of Varela, CR7 and Nani, all 3 given the license to inter-change positions throughout the match. If this works it could be very good and would definitely have frightening pace to worry any defence, it could also bring the best out of Ronaldo who would basically be free to roam everywhere and get into the penalty area a lot, as he does for Real Madrid. (3.) To use Danny in the team, once he recovers from injury, in two possible ways. Firstly, as an offensive number 10 in something akin to 4-2-3-1, with Moutinho playing deeper in midfield and Danny pulling the attacking strings with 2 wingers behind a centre forward. We would lose some defensive strength with this formation by having one less defensive midfielder, but offensively it could really work well. Alternatively we could take a leaf out of Spain's Euro 2012 book...and play Danny as a "false" forward, with CR7 and Nani on the wings, and the same strong midfield trio in suppourt.

Either way if Bento can somehow get us to become more potent in attack, we could win the WC in Brasil, we really could! The vast majority of this Euro 2012 squad should still be intact, a large core of the squad (Moutinho, Nani, Veloso, Coentrao etc) will be reaching their peak, some of our younger players (Oliveira, Andre Santos, Andre Martins, Carrico etc) will have got more experienced, and CR7 will be 2 years more mature and perhaps by this time will be the true leader of the team. The future looks bright. FORCA SEMPRE!!!
stricker position
2 Tuesday, 03 July 2012 12:58
You gus r so funny, didnt spain just win 3 in a row and sometimes didnt use a true striker??? WTF, its like having an olive field and keep complaining about not having orange trees LOL, you work and develop what you have. we are long ways away from having a good striker, Nelson Oliveira is not it, I said it before the tournment and I hate when I am right but he continues to be selfish and not a team player, when JJ puts him in Benfica full time in the squad and he performs consisently then we can start talking about him for WC.
Excellent tournment overhall but its hard to forget that we had 0 shots on goal against spain, makes it a little harder to win a game dont u think?
Breakaway
1 Tuesday, 03 July 2012 11:05
The 3 v. 2 counter against Spain will be my lasting memory as well. Anyone else have vivid flashbacks on Meireles belting one into the top corner against Benefica in nearly identical fashion? And as soon as he passed it that image washed away just like Portugal's chances.

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