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Steadfast Bento setting a fine example

Published: Friday 8 June 2012, 21.00CET
Portugal's fans may be nervy following a run of three games without victory, but Andy Brassell has found the players to be in excellent spirits – thanks largely to coach Paulo Bento.
by Andy Brassell
from Opalenica
 
Published: Friday 8 June 2012, 21.00CET

Steadfast Bento setting a fine example

Portugal's fans may be nervy following a run of three games without victory, but Andy Brassell has found the players to be in excellent spirits – thanks largely to coach Paulo Bento.

If anxiety is building back home in Portugal over the national team's prospects at UEFA EURO 2012, you wouldn't know it from the demeanour of the squad here in Opalenica.

The rather anomalous statistic that Portugal haven't won during a run of three friendlies in 2012 is being treated here as what it is – anecdotal. Within a squad of players who appear to thrive on each other's company, a bit of space from the nervousness and expectation at home is perhaps no bad thing.

There has been a quiet determination about the way Portugal have gone about their business all week, and they are in good shape as they travel to Lviv today for their Group B opener against Germany. If there is one man who must take credit for the positive mood, it is surely coach Paulo Bento.

All the squad's senior players, including Cristiano Ronaldo and Bruno Alves, have used the same sort of language when speaking to UEFA.com this week: words such as 'belief' and 'unity' have been commonplace. Bento inherited a difficult situation two games into the qualifying campaign, but now everybody is pulling in the same direction.

©AFP

Portugal coach Paulo Bento favours stability

The upbeat outlook reflects Bento's personality – steadfast and constant. Some media speculation in Portugal suggests that the in-form Custódio might replace Miguel Veloso in midfield as the player who shields the defence, yet stability is the name of the game. Indeed, Bento is likely to stick with exactly the same XI that got Portugal here, starting both legs of the emphatic play-off win against Bosnia and Herzegovina in November.

For a national side to keep exactly the same XI for its first game at a major championship as it had seven months before in their final qualifier is relatively rare. Yet with Bento, Portugal's players know exactly where they stand.

Last updated: 26/06/12 3.00CET

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