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Denmark and Portugal skip history lessons

Portugal boss Paulo Bento says "it's not yet time for alarm bells" as his side look to revive their fortunes against a dreaming Denmark team they need no introduction to.

Denmark and Portugal skip history lessons
Denmark and Portugal skip history lessons ©UEFA.com

Talk of past glories – even ones from Saturday – have been prominent in the build-up to Denmark's meeting with Portugal, but neither side is taking much stock of history ahead of a match that could help make or break their campaigns at UEFA EURO 2012.

Denmark's surprise victory over the Netherlands has reawakened memories of their famous march to glory in 1992, but Group B opponents Portugal already needed no introduction to their threat. Five times the sides have met over the past six years and Denmark's three wins to Portugal's one ultimately forced the Selecção das Quinas to come through the assault course of play-offs to qualify for both this tournament and the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

Neither coach is drawing too much from that. Morten Olsen insists his team "got lucky in a couple of the qualifiers"; Paulo Bento stresses that "this is another time, with different circumstances". The Portuguese added: "The last time we played each other, in October, Denmark played a certain way as they needed to win in order to come first in their qualifying group and they did, 2-1. Will it be the same approach?"

Olsen, predictably, was keeping his cards close to his chest on that, but while victory over the Netherlands was a "dream scenario" he is not allowing his players to rest on their laurels. "It has given us a real lift and built confidence but we cannot fall asleep now. Portugal were unlucky against Germany, while we needed good fortune ourselves [to beat the Netherlands]. We needed it to be our day."

The theme of provenance has been high on the agenda in the Portugal camp after Saturday's 1-0 loss to Germany though Bento is keen to move on. "If we keep looking for that little bit of good fortune, it's not going to happen for us," he said of a side that has scored only once in four games. "We have to accept that Denmark have an advantage over us, an advantage of three points. The Germany defeat has left us in a difficult situation but we have been here before."

Indeed, a well-versed Bento cited UEFA EURO 2004, when Portugal lost their opener against Greece but recovered to meet – and lose to – Otto Rehhagel's men again in the final. Then there is 1984, when they recovered from a sluggish start to storm into the last four before encountering a Michel Platini-inspired France. "We can quote many situations, we can refer to history, but we must be realistic," he concluded, returning to the task in hand. "And the reality is that we have to beat Denmark."

Olsen, too, prescribed a heavy dose of realism in response to suggestions that Denmark could repeat their 1992 trick. "You must dream but you have to appreciate how different football is today. If we get through the group stage it would be like winning the tournament back in 1992." That would likely spell bad news for Portugal and while Bento says "it's not yet time for alarm bells", he will be eager to jolt Denmark from their dream.

Further reporting from Hugo Pietra and Thomas Mark