Since their arrival in Poland, Portugal's buzzword has been "unity". Nowhere is that togetherness more apparent than in their goalkeeping department, led by the youngest, Rui Patrício.
The 24-year-old is well established as the Selecção das Quinas No1, but quickly stressed to UEFA.com the support he has from back-up options Beto and Eduardo – a portrait of the Portugal squad in microcosm. "You have to give credit to the fantastic bunch of goalkeepers we have," Rui Patrício told UEFA.com. "
Whether it's me, Eduardo or Beto, Portugal’s colours will always be well defended."
Rui Patrício is upbeat, buoyed by the last-ditch win against Denmark on Wednesday which keeps Portugal right in the hunt going into their final Group B match against the Netherlands on Sunday. "It was a relief for everyone," he said. "It felt bad that we were winning 2-0 and that we let them get back level near the end of the game – but we managed to score that third goal, which filled us and all the Portuguese people with happiness."
Silvestre Varela's late clincher against the Danes was indicative of the courage, and the change of luck, that the goalkeeper feels will propel Portugal to improve throughout UEFA EURO 2012. "It was a fantastic victory," Rui Patrício added. "We have an excellent team, full of determination, and the group deserves congratulating for what we did in this game and even in the first one, when the result against Germany was hard on us."
The Sporting Clube de Portugal man takes great pride in the fact that it was one of his defensive colleagues, Pepe, who set Portugal off on the right foot with the opening goal in Lviv. "For me, Pepe is one of the best central defenders in the world," the 13-times capped custodian said. "He's aggressive, he's quick, and we get on very well. I understand just what he's going to do. He's a top centre-back and I'm very proud to play with him."
That understanding will have to be at its best against a Netherlands side that still has hopes of reaching the quarter-finals, and boasts considerable attacking prowess. "We know that they're a really strong team," continued Rui Patrício. "They're a team with excellent players, with a great attacking spearhead, but we know what we can do and we're going to give everything to win. We have to be entirely focused on our task, whether it's Robin van Persie or Klaas-Jan Huntelaar that plays."
With a fifth successive UEFA European Championship quarter-final spot on the horizon, Rui Patrício is determined not to fall short, despite the tough competition. "It's a source of great pride for any player to represent his country," he said, "but even more so in a competition like EURO 2012." Portugal has every right to feel in safe hands.
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