Miguel Veloso is his own harshest critic, a characteristic that is possibly a legacy of his origins in the same Sporting Clube de Portugal academy that produced his Portugal team-mates Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani, his close friend. "I'm never happy with the games that I play," he said this week.
The whole Portugal squad will be on the same page as Veloso tonight when they take on Denmark at Arena Lviv. There is a clear acknowledgement in the camp that only the best will be good enough as Paulo Bento's men strive to get their first points of UEFA EURO 2012 on the board. Yet Veloso is adamant the mood is still upbeat despite defeat by Germany.
"We're confident despite not having achieved the result we wanted," he told UEFA.com. "I think we played well and we showed a unity within our team, but it's not easy to play against a great team like Germany and to respond positively after conceding."
Veloso says caution will be just as important against the Danes, and a balance must be struck between attack and defence as Portugal seek to recover the free-scoring form of the opening year of Bento's reign. "I think Denmark defend quite well," he said, "and they counterattacked well against the Netherlands. We have to stop them in some way." The 26-year-old Genoa CFC man is, however, unambiguous in stressing Portugal have belief in their abilities.
"We respect every team," Veloso emphasised, "but the other sides also respect us, because we have a great team and individually strong players. We know they got a good result against the Dutch and deservedly won, but we have to do our work on the pitch and fight until the last minute."
If Morten Olsen's side have held the upper hand in recent matches with the Selecção das Quinas – Portugal winning just one of the four games between the pair since 2008 – Veloso is not dwelling on the past. "Those matches were completely different," he said. "This competition is completely different and we will certainly do everything we can. We'll give our best to try and get the three points."
The midfielder shares his colleagues' view that Portugal have a trump card in Bento – incidentally, the coach who gave Veloso his top-flight debut at Sporting. "For as long as he has been leading this group, he has been fantastic," Veloso enthused, "and he will continue to be fantastic because he has all the right qualities. When he took over as coach it wasn't easy; he picked the team up, and he will provide continuity as he has been doing." Veloso is determined that continuity will also extend to the UEFA EURO 2012 quarter-finals.
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