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Tough love can help Portugal blossom

Published: Saturday 7 June 2008, 6.48CET
Simão looks forward to Portugal putting the lessons of a difficult qualifying series to good use when they begin their finals campaign against Turkey in Geneva.
Tough love can help Portugal blossom
Simão (left) wants Portugal's learning curve to end in success ©Getty Images

Tournament statistics

PortugalTurkey

Goals scored7
 
8
Total attempts65
 
64
Attempts on target30
 
26
Attempts off target22
 
27
Attempts blocked0
 
0
Attempts against woodwork5
 
3
Corners23
 
28
Offsides17
 
8
Yellow cards8
 
16
Red Cards0
1
Fouls committed63
 
102
Fouls suffered78
 
75
 
Published: Saturday 7 June 2008, 6.48CET

Tough love can help Portugal blossom

Simão looks forward to Portugal putting the lessons of a difficult qualifying series to good use when they begin their finals campaign against Turkey in Geneva.

Simão is looking forward to Portugal putting the lessons of a tough qualifying series to good use when they begin their UEFA EURO 2008™ campaign against Turkey at the Stade de Genève.

Hard campaign
After helping his club side Club Atlético de Madrid to a UEFA Champions League place in his first season at the Estadio Vicente Calderón, the 28-year-old forward is expected to start on the left in the Group A opener. Simão admits that Portugal's evolution into a younger team affected the squad during qualification, but says the experience will help them succeed at the Austria/Switzerland tournament.

No looking back
"Qualifying had become normal in recent years," he said. "But we had a few difficulties in these qualifying matches as we were making changes to the team and our game was under construction. We had difficult games, especially against Serbia and Finland, but the most important thing is that we managed to qualify. There's no point looking back now at what went before."

Lessons from 2004
The winger accepts that expectation has been raised by their achievements under coach Luiz Felipe Scolari. "Portugal have to be one of the favourites," he said. Simão also hopes that the squad can draw from the negatives, as well as the positives, in their recent past to help them go as far as possible. "Our principal objective is to win the first game, so we can be a little more relaxed for the following matches. We know, after EURO 2004, how important it is to get off to a good start."

Plans hatched
Simão's successor as SL Benfica captain, Nuno Gomes, says that Portugal will keep their tactical plan secret until the last minute. "We don't need to say publically what we need to do to beat Turkey, but we have our ideas," said Gomes. Nor is the striker taking anything for granted despite previous good results against Saturday's opponents. "It would be good if we could repeat the last few results against Turkey. But we're concentrating on the game rather than statistics."

Goals guaranteed
Gomes also dispels worries about Portugal's perceived lack of a genuine out-and-out forward in a squad full of quality midfielders and wingers. "Since the days of Eusébio we've been saying that our national team have been lacking in strikers," he said. According to the 31-year-old, he and his colleagues will not be found wanting at the vital moment against Turkey. "If the passes arrive, the centre-forwards will be there," he said.

Last updated: 07/06/08 21.22CET

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