Portugal have yet to win a game inside 90 minutes at UEFA EURO 2016, but EURO2016.com's Joe Walker has identified three reasons why the title could be theirs at last.
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It's about time they did
Portugal have been the very definition of the phrase 'always the bridesmaid, never the bride' when it comes to the UEFA European Championship. The Selecção have been semi-finalists in four of the past five EUROs, including a final defeat on home soil in 2004. This generation of players have suffered enough heartache and will have learned from their semi-final elimination by Spain four years ago. Possessing a mix of youthful prospects like Renato Sanches and André Gomes, and wily experience in the form of Cristiano Ronaldo and Pepe, they might now be ready to overcome the final hurdle.
They have Cristiano Ronaldo
The all-time EURO appearances record holder became the first player to score in four different final tournaments during the group stage – yet he has not, by his usual extremely high standards, hit the heights expected of him. Nevertheless, he has consistently created danger and has racked up two goals in addition to laying on a further two. He can also make something happen out of nothing and is unquestionably a big-game player. Knowing this might well be his last shot at glory with Portugal, he will be a man on a mission to secure that elusive international trophy.
- All the build-up to Portugal v Wales
- Portugal v Wales background
- Renato Sanches, Portugal's 18-year-old wonderkid
They have unbelievable support
With France home to the largest Portuguese diaspora in the world, at times it has felt like Portugal are playing at home, such are the numbers packing out the stadiums. Hundreds of fans have welcomed the squad wherever they go – hotels, stadiums and airports – and after the round of 16 victory over Croatia, more than 500 waited in pouring rain for the team to return to their Marcoussis base at 04:00 the next morning. Their passion, belief and hunger have never wavered, and the supporters have had a big hand in Portugal getting this far. They can help them go all the way.
On the other hand ...
Their luck might just run out
Somewhat remarkably, Portugal have managed to make the semi-finals of UEFA EURO 2016 without winning a single game over 90 minutes. In the knockout stage, only a late breakaway goal and a penalty shoot-out have nudged them past their opponents, though surely they cannot rely on such fine margins indefinitely: all three sides involved in back-to-back shoot-outs at previous EUROs have lost the second. Portugal must find an elusive win, preferably over 90 minutes, which is something they have been unable to achieve thus far.