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Portugal's Polish home from home

Published: Tuesday 5 June 2012, 16.54CET
It may be a lot colder and not all the players will be familiar with the screaming girls that have greeted them, but Paulo Bento's side have wasted no time settling into their headquarters.
by Andy Brassell
from Opalenica
 
Published: Tuesday 5 June 2012, 16.54CET

Portugal's Polish home from home

It may be a lot colder and not all the players will be familiar with the screaming girls that have greeted them, but Paulo Bento's side have wasted no time settling into their headquarters.

The skies above Opalenica, near Poznan, may be grey and a fair bit colder than the national team's home bolthole of Obidos, on the Estremadura coast, but Portugal seem to be settling in just fine. After last night's late arrival to Poznan from Lisbon, Paulo Bento's group are already at home, with a comfortable common room set up at the front of the hotel and Portuguese television programmes projected on to the back wall.

©Getty Images

João Moutinho in training

"It's great to be with my team-mates and always speaking Portuguese," Cristiano Ronaldo told journalists on Friday. Sitting down for a filmed interview with UEFA.com's Hugo Pietra, the captain still enjoyed the opportunity to practise his English on the director (laughing and putting on his best mock London accent for a quick "alright, mate?") but the players' mutual enjoyment of one another's culture, and company, is clear.

As the group lined up to have footage taken for the official pre-match team announcements on stadium scoreboards during UEFA EURO 2012, the mood was relaxed. Valencia CF's Ricardo Costa struggled to keep a straight face as a mischievous Bruno Alves cracked jokes from behind the camera, before the defender quickly recovered his deadpan look for his own shots.

©UEFA.com

Portugal's bus has attracted interest

A large banner hanging above the main road that leads to the team hotel reads: Opalenica wita reprezentacje Portugalii (roughly, Opalenica welcomes Portugal's national team). This small town is going about its daily business as visiting cameramen and journalists wander around the centre, but the friendly welcome the locals are giving to their illustrious visitors has not gone unnoticed.

"We arrived late last night but we've seen the support of people on the streets and we're very happy to have that," a smiling Hugo Viana said during the inaugural press conference in Portugal's media centre. Ronaldo has, of course, been the centre of attention, with a hand-sprayed banner welcoming him tied to a tree on the edge of a town – and a gaggle of screaming girls present as the players disembarked at Poznan airport last night. Just like home.

Last updated: 28/06/12 14.53CET

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