Portugal winger Cristiano Ronaldo is looking forward to taking on his Manchester United FC team-mate Gary Neville when the host nation meet England in Thursday's quarter-final at the Estádio da Luz.
Neville, one of four United players in the England squad, has yet to face Ronaldo in a competitive fixture after missing England's
1-1 draw with Portugal in February, and the veteran right-back has been warned to expect the worst on Thursday. "I expect to beat him several times, but the most important thing for me is that Portugal wins," said Ronaldo. "I know that my runs are helping my team and I just want to continue doing that on Thursday."
Ronaldo impressed in only his second start for Portugal in the decisive victory over Spain on Sunday. There he started on the right flank but kept switching sides with Luís Figo - which would bring him up against Neville. Still, after a year at Old Trafford, he knows that facing the England defence will not be easy. "They are all great players," he said.
"England have a strong defence, with Gary, Ashley [Cole] and [Sol] Campbell. Scoring a goal would be great, but it is asking too much. I just want my country to win." The 19-year-old added: "England are a very good team, with a strong collective mentality and great players. Only at our best can we beat them, but we don't fear anyone."
Portugal, of course, have fond memories of their last competitive meeting with England - when they came back from 2-0 down to beat England 3-2 at UEFA EURO 2000™. Five of the current squad featured in that win and left-back Nuno Valente - who made his debut in a 1-1 draw against England in September 2002 - recalled the match fondly when he said: "That was a memorable day for Portuguese football.
"I watched the match on television and felt great pride at being Portuguese - and for the players who fought so hard in such a critical situation." Could it happen again? "After the shock of losing against Greece, the Portuguese people are enthusiastic and believe we can become European champions," Nuno Valente said. "It's good for us, and another positive thing to help us beat England."
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