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HOW THEY QUALIFIED

  GROUP H GP GD PTS
1 Denmark (Q)       8 6 1 1 9 19
2 Portugal (Q) 8 5 1 2 9 16
3 Norway 8 5 1 2 3 16
4 Iceland 8 1 1 6 -8 4
5 Cyprus 8 0 2 6 -13 2


RESULTS TOP SCORERS
Sep 3, 2010 Portugal 4-4 Cyprus
Sep 7, 2010 Norway 1-0 Portugal
Oct 8, 2010 Portugal 3-1 Denmark
Oct 12, 2010 Iceland 1-3 Portugal
Jun 4, 2011: Portugal 1-0 Norway
Sep 2, 2011: Cyprus 0-4 Portugal
Oct 7, 2011: Portugal 5-3 Iceland
Oct 11, 2011: Denmark 2-1 Portugal
Nov 11, 2011: Bosnia 0-0 Portugal
Nov 15, 2011: Portugal 6-2 Bosnia
7 - Cristiano Ronaldo
5 - Nani,
Helder Postiga
2 - Danny,
Raul Meireles,
Hugo Almeida
1 - Manuel Fernandes, Joao Moutinho,
Eliseu,
Miguel Veloso

Portugal got off to a dismal start to their Euro 2012 qualifying campaign, losing five points in their first two games as Agostinho Oliveira replaced suspended coach Carlos Queiroz on the bench. Paulo Bento then took over and brought with him some much-needed stability.

The Seleccao went on to win five consecutive matches, but new internal problems caused by Ricardo Carvalho’s early retirement saw them lose the final qualifying match, against Denmark. The defeat sent them to the play-offs, where they met Bosnia and Herzegovina in a repeat of the World Cup 2010 play-offs. After a goalless draw in Zenica, Portugal upped the pace and secured a 6-2 victory to book a place in Poland and Ukraine.

PAST RECORD IN THE EUROS 

1960
Quarter-finalists
1988
Did not qualify
1964
Did not qualify
1992
Did not qualify
1968
Did not qualify
1996
Quarter-finalists
1972
Did not qualify 2000
Semi-finalists
1976
Did not qualify 2004
Runners-up
1980
Did not qualify 2008
Quarter-finalists
1984
Semi-finalists
2012
Qualified through play-offs

Portugal took part of the first European Championship, in 1960, where they reached the quarter-finals of the competition after defeating East Germany. It would take them 24 years to return to the finals, and they did so convincingly, reaching the semi-finals of the competition.

However, it would not be before the mid-90’s that Portugal would establish themselves as regulars at European Championships. After reaching the quarter-finals and the semi-finals at Euro 1996 and Euro 2000, respectively, the Seleccao suffered a dramatic defeat at home in the Euro 2004 final against Greece. Four years later, they could not go beyond the quarter-finals as they suffered a 3-2 defeat against eventual runners-up Germany.


THE COACH | PAULO BENTO
 
Taking control of the Seleccao is only Paulo Bento’s second coaching experience at senior level, after guiding Sporting Lisbon from 2005 to 2009. The 42-year-old, who had 35 international caps during his playing days as a midfielder, enjoyed a dream start in charge of Portugal as he won his first five competitive matches.

Bento’s strong personality has earned him conflicts with Ricardo Carvalho and Bosingwa, both of whom have already retired from international football, and this raised doubts about his capacity to put together a stable group. However, the 6-2 thrashing of Bosnia in the play-offs has restored hope in the fans that he is the right man for the job.


THE CAPTAIN | CRISTIANO RONALDO
The Real Madrid star was given the armband when Carlos Queiroz took over and he has been doing a good job as Seleccao’s skipper, even during the team’s most difficult moments. Arguably approaching peak age for a footballer, Ronaldo is perhaps the most iconic player at these finals, and his speed, technique and powerful right foot have become key elements on Portugal’s left wing.

But if his club performances always draw admiring glances, the same cannot be said about his international form, with many critics of the belief that he does not give his all for Portugal. However, his showing in the second play-off game against Bosnia was evidence that he can show his true colours for the national team and that he will be a player to watch at the Euro 2012 finals.


THE UNDERSTUDY | NANI

The winger took longer than Cristiano Ronaldo to cement his place in Portugal’s set-up, but his rise in form in the last two seasons at Manchester United has been witnessed in his international displays: Nani was the Seleccao’s second-highest scorer during the Euro 2012 qualifying campaign, on five goals.

Nani’s influence in Portugal is frequently overshadowed by Ronaldo’s status, but the United star has demonstrated he is a key player, both in attacking and in defensive situations. After missing World Cup 2010 through injury, Nani is desperate to prove his worth on the biggest international stages, and the Euro 2012 finals will provide just that opportunity.


THE EMERGING TALENT | FABIO COENTRAO


A natural left-winger, it was as a full-back that Fabio Coentrao rose to prominence, due to Angel di Maria, now his team-mate at Real Madrid, filling that position in Benfica’s attack.

Coentrao has all the key ingredients required in a modern full-back: he is good in defence and is capable of supporting the attack with his speed and precise passing and crossing. After an impressive season at Benfica, the World Cup in South Africa enhanced his international credentials and showed he is a world-class player. Without any other quality solution for that position, Portugal will rely on the Real Madrid player to have a shot at going far in Poland and Ukraine.



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