Euro 2012: Portugal up against the big fish
Portugal may be seen as one of the favourites to win this competition, but there are other teams more highly fancied by the punters and rightfully so.
Former Portugal goalkeeper Ricardo, one of the stars of Portugal's run at Euro 2004, gives you his Expert Guide to Portugal in the Euro 2012.
Unity and belief key
For this Euro' 2012 we have to be ready for everything. For the good moments and the bad moments, which will inevitably happen. All we hope is that the team can have more good moments than bad, because we have ambition and optimism and that's something we can never give up on. The most important thing is that the group stays united, strong, with everyone pushing in the same direction, even when things aren't going our way. The team has quality, talented players, options on the bench, so everyone must stick together like they have been doing so far. If there are weaknesses in this team, I will let the opponents work them out. In my opinion, this team has no major weaknesses.
A decent chance but plenty of big fish out there
Portugal may be seen as one of the favourites to win this competition, but there are other teams more highly fancied by the punters and rightfully so. Just look at our group: we are playing against three former European Champions! And people might think it's only history, but history weighs on everyone's minds in competitions like the Euros or World Cups. We were finalists in the Euro'2004 and it's only natural that we think that we go one better this time but there are many other teams with ambition and which also have the same objective in mind: going all the way.
A happy camp is a successful camp
From my own experience, and I've been at two World Cups (2002 and 2006) and two Euros (2004 and 2008), the most important thing in this moment is that the players know how to deal with spending so many weeks altogether. In the friendly games and qualification, we just had a few days together as a group; now, the team will spend much more time together and you have to know how to create a strong spirit.
No use crying over injured or suspended players
At the end of the day, it doesn't matter if Cristiano Ronaldo, Joao Moutinho or John Doe is unavailable to play. No player will win a match by himself, the team wins matches. I hope there are no injuries or suspensions at all, but it that happens we must focus on the ones who are available to play. The others simply don't count and we move on from that.
Paulo Bento impressive so far
Paulo Bento has been doing a great job, especially on building that solid team spirit I mentioned before as a key element for a tournament like this one. I'm pretty sure he knows how to handle the group in order to keep the unity, the discipline and the joy of playing for the national team.
It will all come down to tiny details
When people ask me where Portugal can go, I always say the same: to Ukraine and Poland. We have to go there to play, or we won't win a thing for sure!
But seriously, maybe destiny has already decided how far we'll end up going before a ball has been kicked in anger. Everything comes down to tiny details and I'm not just talking about the ball that hits the post and doesn't go in or the penalty shout that is or isn't given. I'm not going to make any firm predictions.
I just hope that like everyone else back home, we can go as far as possible.
Good luck boys!