The focus in snowy Warsaw has inevitably been on Poland as the UEFA EURO 2012 co-hosts play their first game at the National Stadium where they will begin the finals against Greece 100 days hence. The mood is understandably festive – but friendly opponents Portugal have every intention of upsetting the party.
Portugal experienced rather mixed fortunes on their own way to clinching a finals place, but when it mattered they surged through with a 6-2 play-off second-leg defeat of Bosnia and Herzegovina in November. With his focus now shifting to this summer’s finals, coach Paulo Bento is keen to begin 2012 in the right fashion.
"Portugal are motivated to beat Poland," he said. "We are going into this game the same as we have done in the others, [aiming] to be a competitive and organised team."
Carlos Martins and Silvestre Varela have had to withdraw their services, but Bento is still keen for the visitors to put on a show, having called up the hero of Portugal's run to the 2011 FIFA U-20 World Cup final, forward Nélson Oliveira, and also given a late selection to Paulo Machado – capped once in a brief cameo at the end of the 4-0 friendly win against Spain in November 2010.
"We want to take this opportunity to project a good image, play with quality and get a good result," the coach said. "We want to maintain the levels of confidence from qualification we achieved not so long ago and go into the EURO 2012 finals with strong conviction."
Poland themselves have impressed Bento, notably FC Girondins de Bordeaux midfielder Ludovic Obraniak and Borussia Dortmund forward Robert Lewandowski. "The Poland team have quality and the advantage of playing at home," he said. "From the midfield up they have plenty of quality. [Obraniak] and Lewandowski are natural highlights; they play for great teams, but we also have our own weapons.
"We know it will be a difficult match due to our opponents' quality, as they are playing at home and also looking forward to EURO 2012, a tournament they will co-host. Nevertheless, we have shown our strengths recently and I can assure everyone that we will be motivated from the first minute onwards."
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