Mustering intensity in training in the days leading up to a major championship is never a problem, but the challenge is a little different for the goalkeeping contingent.
A keeper occupies perhaps the most important position in the side, but its very nature makes it a solitary vocation. "There can only be one," the great Brazilian Taffarel once said, "so you have to be the man."
Or, at least, you have to believe you're going to be the man. Rui Patrício will start against Germany, though Beto recently said that all three goalkeepers in the squad will "start from the same platform". Creating their own team ethic, training apart, has been key to that.
"There's a fabulous dynamic between the three of them," said Portugal goalkeeping coach Ricardo Peres in Obidos last week. Seeing the solidarity between the trio is quite something. "There will always be a strong bond between us," Eduardo said today. "Whoever plays will have support, in good and bad moments."
The 29-year-old was perhaps the best goalkeeper at the 2010 FIFA World Cup but will begin this tournament on the bench. Given that Beto started the recent friendly against the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, he may even be considered third choice, yet he remained cheerful and engaging in conversation. "We have to be ready to play," he said. "I'm happy to have the confidence of the coach."
The most impressive aspect of this Portugal squad since arriving in Poland has been the genuine sense that every squad member has something to contribute. In a training game on Tuesday, Beto and Eduardo took turns in goal for one of the teams and also alternated at left-back, making up the numbers with Nani injured.
Beto even struck a blow for the goalkeepers' union, taking great pleasure in dribbling around a bemused Ricardo Quaresma. Yes, every player will have his moment in the sun.
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