One goal in a three-match winless run in 2012 is hardly the ideal way to prepare for the UEFA European Championship, but Paulo Bento is unconcerned heading into Portugal's Group B opener against fancied Germany.
Speaking to UEFA.com, the coach explains why his team have played better than their recent results suggest, looks ahead to Saturday's game in Lviv and speaks about his relationship with Selecção captain Cristiano Ronaldo.
UEFA.com: Portugal have not won in three games this year and the team's preparation has certainly not been as expected. What are your thoughts on how things are going?
Paulo Bento: Results weren't what we wanted in the three matches, particularly the last two, but in the games against Poland [0-0] and Turkey [1-3] our performances were good. In Poland [in February] we had a good first half and played at a very good level from which we could have won.
Against Turkey we had a big dose of misfortune because we did things well − we played a match of great quality, both in attacking and defensive terms, but were punished for the mistakes we made. What we did would normally have been enough to win. The match against [the Former Yugoslav Republic of] Macedonia [0-0] didn't go as we would have liked.
UEFA.com: What has to be improved before your opening match?
Bento: We should try to improve as much as possible on the things we did against Turkey. We lost 3-1, but we shouldn't just hold on to that result. We should analyse the match and all that we did in it. Therefore, we should try to take most of the positive things we did in that match and, of course, try to correct some of the less positive things.
UEFA.com: What will be the key to defeating Germany?
Bento: Above all, against a team like Germany you need to be organised. You need to have courage because if you only think about defending, then surely you won't be able to get a good result. You have to try to attack them, but in an organised way. Above all we have to be strong, aggressive and cohesive, especially when we lose the ball.
UEFA.com: The national team usually plays in a 4-3-3 system. Does that help in a tournament such as this?
Bento: I don't know, but Portugal have played this way for a number of years. Recently Portugal have played, and with some results, in a 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 and therefore we will play within that tactical system [again]. Perhaps in relation to previous years we're aiming towards another way of playing or, let's say, another template for the national team. Maybe there isn't time to consolidate this, but we've improved in some situations and that's what we work for.
UEFA.com: You played with Cristiano Ronaldo at Sporting Clube de Portugal. Does that help in your relationship with him now as captain?
Bento: When we were team-mates I was ending my career and he was just starting his. Now we are in a different position. A coach and a leader needs to get to know his players as well as possible in tactical and technical terms, and in personal terms as well. What is a player's character? What is his personality? Ronaldo is a player we know well, what with his enormous talent. He's a very easy player to work with thanks to his high level of professionalism.
UEFA.com: Can he be a star of UEFA EURO 2012?
Bento: Ronaldo is one of the best players in the world. He will be remembered as one of the best players of all time, not just in Portuguese terms. Can he be the star of the tournament? Firstly we're aiming for Portugal to be a great team, a strong collective, and then we can focus on individuals. It's very difficult to be a star without having collective quality behind him.
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