By Maximilian Bensinger
Besiktas striker Hugo Almeida has refused to write off Portugal's chances of winning the Euro 2012 title.
The Seleccao, who qualified for the tournament in Poland and Ukraine via the play-offs, face an uphill task to make it out of the group stage after being paired with Germany, Netherlands and Denmark.
But Almeida does not rule out the possibility of Portugal clinching the title they missed in 2004 - when they finished runners-up to Greece in their homeland.
"I hope Portugal does win the title," he told Goal.com. "We will be working hard to win this title which we want so much.
"We have been close before and I hope this will be our year. In regards to a surprise, this is a very short tournament.
"As you know, whoever is better at a certain moment can win. It does not mean the best teams will reach the finals.
"Every tournament has its surprises and is hard to predict. But usually the Euro is the most difficult tournament in the world and some say harder than the World Cup."
Almeida went on to praise the pool of talent at the disposal of Portugal coach Paulo Bento, particularly Cristiano Ronaldo - whom he expects to shine at the Euros.
"We have a lot of quality players who represent the best clubs in the world," the 28-year-old noted.
"Now, we need to perform like the team we all know and take advantage of everyone's characteristics, so that we can do the best we can in this tournament.
"With this in mind, I believe that this time around this team is more mature and knows the responsibility that it carries to get out of the group phase.
"Ronaldo? For me, he is the best player in the world, and it is normal for him to get the attention he does.
"However, in football one does not win alone. He needs a good supporting team around him, so he can be at his best.
"I believe we have a very good team that will allow him and everyone else to shine during the competition."
Portugal kick off their Euro campaign against Germany on Saturday, and Almeida is aware that with a group of such strong talents, a win against Joachim Low’s men will stand them in good stead to qualify to the quarter-finals.
He added: "Germany are a great side with great players.
"We are in a very difficult group and all the teams in it can finish at the top.
"However, we must try to play our game and I hope we will come out with a positive result on Saturday."