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Eduardo urges Portugal to start in style

A star performer for Portugal at the 2010 FIFA World Cup, Eduardo will be on the bench on Saturday but warns that, with or without him, they can go further at UEFA EURO 2012.

Eduardo provides a reassuring presence
Eduardo provides a reassuring presence ©AFP/Getty Images

Barring any last-minute injury to Rui Patrício, Eduardo will have to make do with a place on the bench for Portugal's UEFA EURO 2012 opener against Germany. But if woe does betide the No1, Paulo Bento's side could not hope for a more solid replacement.

The people from Portugal's north-eastern state of Tras-os-Montes are hewn from the toughest of rocks. Isolated from the rest of the country by the jagged escarpment of the foreboding Serra do Marao, they do things their own way. Their industry is a source of renown and admiration as they make the most of an at-times bleak environment; endearingly enduring. On Saturday, a sizeable chunk of Transmontana granite will arrive at the Arena Lviv in the shape of Eduardo.

The Portugal goalkeeper hails from Mirandela, a town where the edges have been softened by the snaking Tua river and a famous cuisine – but he is unmistakably Transmontano. Standing at 1.90m and similarly wide, the hero in the side's run to the 2010 FIFA World Cup round of 16 offers his hand kindly as he arrives for an interview, then unintentionally crushes it. Germany's strikers must fear similar treatment from Portugal as Group B gets under way. "I think," he warned, "that the team are ready and capable of having an even better EURO [than the World Cup]."

Getting off on the right note will be crucial. "We know the first match is very important; a victory would lift the team and maybe keep us calmer, but if we lose we will have to risk more [going forward]," he added. "Germany have many strong points. They have excellent players, they are strong in transition, they are quite compact – but we aren't worried about that. They are quite technical but we are too, and we will try to overcome them with our own quality."

Portugal have no shortage of that, but Cristiano Ronaldo has more than most. Will this be his tournament? "We hope so," Eduardo fires back. "We hope he will be at the level we are accustomed to seeing him at, but we hope the same is true of the rest of the team because he can't do it alone. We have to be focused, to give our all and be determined. We also have good players which Germany will certainly know. We are capable of unbalancing Germany, too."

As he departed with great authority, few in the room doubted it – though this reporter was more concerned with his throbbing hand.