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Euro 2012: Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo ponders group of death

May 29, 2012

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• Miguel Lopes and Custódio shock inclusions in Portugal squad
• Ronaldo happy for Portuguese to take underdog’s tag

The Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo believes the pressure is off his country as they prepare for a daunting group at Euro 2012.

After being forced to qualify via the play-offs for the tournament, the Portuguese are not being talked up as potential champions, especially as they share Group B with Germany and Holland.

“We know we are in the group of death with Germany, Netherlands and the team who knocked us out [to the play-off] in the qualification phase, which was Denmark,” Ronaldo said on Tuesday following the announcement of Portugal’s 23-man squad.

“Those are going to be some very tough matches but I am confident we will go past the group phase. I know we will not be favourites. Even better.”

Miguel Lopes and Custódio were the main surprises in Portugal’s squad. The full-back Lopes and midfielder Custódio, both uncapped, were rewarded for their form for Braga this season.

Their team-mate and former Newcastle United player Hugo Viana was called up as a late replacement for Carlos Martins, after the Granada midfie lder was forced to withdraw with a calf injury last week.

The Benfica forward Nélson Oliveira, 20, was also included, his only cap having come in February in a friendly against Poland. He adds to the manager Paulo Bento’s attacking options, joining Ronaldo and Manchester United’s Nani.

Portugal start their campaign on 9 June against Germany, before facing Denmark and Holland

Squad

Goalkeepers: Eduardo (Benfica), Rui Patrício (Sporting), Beto (CFR Cluj).

Defenders: João Pereira (Sporting), Fábio Coentrão (Real Madrid), Bruno Alves (Zenit St Petersburg), Rolando (Porto), Ricardo Costa (Valencia), Pepe (Real Madrid), Miguel Lopes (Braga).

Midfielders: Raúl Meireles (Chelsea), Miguel Veloso (Genoa), João Moutinho (Porto), Rúben Micael (Real Zaragoza), Hugo Viana (Braga), Custódio (Braga).

Forwards: Nani (Manchester United), Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid), Hug o Almeida (Besiktas), Ricardo Quaresma (Besiktas), Silvestre Varela (Porto), Hélder Postiga (Real Zaragoza), Nélson Oliveira (Benfica). Read More

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