'Spain clash 50/50' - Joao Pereira

Portuguese right back insists his side are confident ahead of their Euro 2012 semi-final and plays down the loss of Helder Postiga and rumours of a training ground bust up
Portugal right back Joao Pereira has labelled his side’s Euro 2012 semi-final with Spain as a 50/50 tie but insists the match will be completely different to the friendly clash between the teams two years ago.

Portugal triumphed 4-0 on that occasion but Pereira was quick to point out that Spain would not be adopting the same relaxed approach on Wednesday evening.

The 28 year old told reporters: “It will be a 50/50 game. I do not know if we will watch that match [Portugal’s 4-0 win] but it will be a completely different game.

"That was a friendly match, there was nothing at stake, Spain were very relaxed and slacking.

“Now it will be harder and I do not think that the match will be that uneven. At World Cup, it was a very close match [Spain 1-0 Portugal] and either team could have won.
9/2 Portugal are 9/2 with William Hill to take Spain to penalties

We are confident and I hope that we will [win]."

Portugal made a stuttering start to their Euro 2012 campaign, losing 1-0 to Germany, before narrowly beating Denmark and Holland to ensure qualification from the group stages and although Pereira is encouraged by the team’s improvement, he acknowledges the threat Spain possess.

“Even though we did not get off to a good start at the Euros, we have been improving after working together for a month,” he continued.

“I hope we will not make mistakes, because they [Spain] easily make the most of them. We will have to be careful with their midfielders, who make deadly passes."

The recent Valencia recruit also highlighted the threat of Spanish full-back Jordi Alba, who looks set to complete a transfer to Barcelona this summer, but claimed Portugal have enough ammunition to trouble him.

"He is a great player and it will be a close duel with him," Pereira continued.

"We will see if he will be my team-mate at Valencia. I am a Valencia player but he is about to leave for Barcelona, which shows he is a great player.

“But before we worry about him, he must worry about Nani, who is in great form. Before he attacks he will have to worry about defending."

Rumours have been rife of a training ground incident between team mates Ricardo Quaresma and Miguel Lopes but Pereira played down talk of any unrest.

“It is behind us," he insisted.

"It is normal that these sorts of things happen in the heat of a practice session. The players are focused and want to show that they have the quality to play.

"But from the moment we left the training, everything went back to normal.”

The right back also dismissed the loss of Helder Postiga ahead of the semi-final. The striker has been ruled out through an injury picked up against Czech Republic but Pereira believes Portugal’s strength in depth will shine through.

"Either Nelson Oliveira or Hugo Almeida can replace Helder," he said.

"Nelson always turned in good performances when he came on as substitute in the group stage, while Hugo Almeida came out with a lot of confidence against Czech Republic.

“That is what we expect, that everyone has desire and ambition. That is what makes this squad stronger."

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