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Pereira keeps his calm ahead of Spain test

João Pereira may have only won his first Portugal cap aged 26 but he is showing no sign of nerves ahead of the semi-final with Spain: "We know how to deal with the pressure."

João Pereira talks to the assembled media on Sunday
João Pereira talks to the assembled media on Sunday ©AFP/Getty Images

By the time João Pereira made his full international debut, he was 26 years of age. His balanced demeanour, while Portugal stand just one game away from the UEFA EURO 2012 final in Kyiv on 1 July, is perhaps a reflection of his awareness that everything comes to those who wait.

There certainly seem to be few nerves ahead of Wednesday's semi-final against Spain. "We're all good professionals, playing for big clubs," Pereira told UEFA.com. "We know how to deal with the pressure."

A similar approach worked in the last eight, against Czech Republic, when Portugal were forced to be patient until Cristiano Ronaldo finally broke the deadlock with 11 minutes left. "We stayed calm," added Pereira. "You have to play the game from beginning to end. We had to wait for the goal as we missed some chances beforehand, but the result was deserved and we showed we have good quality."

The right-back, who recently agreed to join Valencia CF, says that quality is present throughout the squad, on both a sporting and a human level. "It's fundamental," he said. "Football's a collective sport, not an individual one. There are 23 of us, side by side, all with the same desire to win."

That strength in depth will get a first real test in this tournament against Spain, with first-choice centre-forward Hélder Postiga out injured. "Postiga's a great professional and a great player," said Pereira, "but we have Hugo Almeida and Nélson Oliveira. It's possible that there could be [tactical] changes, but I think both centre-forwards can stand in well for Postiga, whichever one it is."

Pereira is certain Portugal will not stray too far from their winning formula against Vicente del Bosque's side, however. "We're going to keep our own personality because things are going well," he added. "We have respect for them, of course, because they're world and European champions, but we're not going to give them too much respect because it's 11 versus 11 – and we play good football."

That constancy is a cornerstone of the Paulo Bento era. Indeed, it is the only way that Pereira knows with Portugal, as the former Sporting Clube de Portugal coach gave him his national team debut in his very first game in charge, against Denmark in October 2010.

"He's a coach who understands us very well," Pereira said. "Because he was a player too, and that's something that's pretty important. He knows how to keep our spirits up and gives us plenty of free time so we can relax our minds a little." The freedom with which Portugal are currently playing suggests that could be the perfect recipe for success.