Deco believes it is in Portugal's destiny "to play in the final game of the tournament" as the host nation continue to prepare for a UEFA EURO 2004™ semi-final against the Netherlands.
The FC Porto star began the competition on the bench before being selected ahead of Rui Costa for Portugal's second game after the hosts kicked off the tournament with a 2-1 loss to Greece. Deco has since impressed as the Portuguese advanced from Group A as section winners and eliminated England on penalties following a thrilling quarter-final at the Estádio da Luz - which will next stage the 4 July final.
'Quality and strength'
"When a team gets to this stage and doesn't make it to the final it's tremendously disappointing," Deco said at the hosts' training base at Alcochete. "However, I believe that we will be in the final. Our quality and our strength lie in our teamwork, factors which could prove the difference. Holland are a really good team, though, with some of the best players in Europe."
Regarding his promotion to the first team, Deco said: "There's no extra euphoria because I am starting games, just like I wasn't depressed when I was on the bench. Rui Costa is playing very well, scoring important goals, and I'm not sure that I'll even start against Holland. That's not important personally anyway because I'm happy with the team, the quality of the performances and the taste of winning."
Deco is reportedly one of Europe's most in-demand talents, having been the fulcrum of the Porto side which in May added the UEFA Champions League crown to the UEFA Cup one won the previous season. "I'm at a unique point in my career and now want to play in another European final," said the Brazilian-born midfielder. "Our team contains a number of players with experience of winning in Europe and now is the time to do so with the national team."
The 26-year-old is both the most fouled player in the tournament and the one who has committed the most fouls, a "curious" statistic according to Deco, who filled in at right-back against England following the introduction of Rui Costa. "It was the first time in my career I'd played there," he said. "I found it very difficult physically, and was very tired at the end."
Deco also refuted Dutch suggestions that Portugal will feel added pressure in front of their own fans on Wednesday. "I've never seen support like this in Portugal," he said. "The crowd have really motivated us. They obviously can't score goals, but I believe the fans can add 20 to 30 per cent to our performances."
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