As the rain fell hard on the training pitch and media centre at Portugal's UEFA EURO 2012 base at Opalenica, summer seemed to have forgotten to turn up. Yet the outlook in the camp was unquestionably bright when Paulo Bento's charges woke to their first day of work in Poland.
Midfielders João Moutinho and Hugo Viana are approaching the tournament full of freshness and both are understandably keen to make an impact, with Moutinho having missed out on the 2010 FIFA World Cup after an impressive UEFA EURO 2008. As for Viana, his appearance as a substitute in the recent friendly with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia was his first for Portugal in over five years – dating back to a 1-1 friendly draw with Kuwait in June 2007.
Following excellent club seasons with FC Porto and SC Braga respectively, the two Sporting Clube de Portugal academy graduates wish to stay focused on the present. "The past doesn't count for anything," said Moutinho, briefly recalling the abrupt end to his tournament in Switzerland four years ago, when he went off injured after half an hour as Portugal lost to Saturday's opening Group B opponents Germany at the quarter-final stage.
The disconnection from past meetings is even more pronounced for Viana, returning to the fold after a long hiatus. "I've never played with this group or under Paulo Bento," he said, "but I knew most of the players already and the adaptation process has been excellent. I hope we can take this atmosphere into the game with Germany."
Despite national disappointment at the weekend loss to Turkey in front of a full house in Lisbon, the feeling within the group is upbeat, and the players believe there is something good to work with. "The team played pretty well against Turkey," emphasised Viana. "We were pleased with the performance but not with the result."
Moutinho also put recent results into perspective, saying: "They were preparation games. We improved from one to the other and it's all about being in the best possible condition for the match on Saturday." There is acknowledgement that Joachim Löw's side will start as marginal favourites at Arena Lviv, yet the 25-year-old Porto man thinks Portugal have the tools to "surprise" the 2008 finalists.
"We have our own style of play," he said, “just like Germany do, and we'll try and impose ourselves on the match. We just have to concentrate as it's the little details that decide games at this level." There is no suggestion of going into the match simply aiming not to lose. "We'll work towards getting a victory, like we do for all the games," Moutinho confirmed. "If we don't manage it, then we'll do the sums later on."
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