Euro 2012: Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo ponders group of death
• 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
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