Portugal have come painfully close to winning the European Championship before, only to fall just short. As hosts, in 2004, they lost 1-0 to Greece in the final and four years earlier they went down 2-1 to the eventual winners, France, in the semi-finals.
Finding themselves in the last four of Euro 2012, the Portuguese players have admitted they will do everything possible to bring home the country’s first ever title. “You asked me whether this would be the year of Portugal? I do hope so,” the midfielder Custódio said on Monday. “I don’t have the ability to guess whether it’s going to be or not, but we’re going to fight to the death for this to be the year of Portugal.”
The task ahead is about as daunting as they come: Portugal play the defending world and European champions, Spain, on Wednesday in Donetsk.
The Spanish have not been as dominant or impressive at Euro 2012 as in years past, but they advanced out of the group stage unbeaten before comfortably beating France 2-0 in the quarter-finals. “Spain are a great team that won the last two major competitions,” Custódio said. “It has always played to win, but so do we.”
The last time the teams met at a tournament was in the second round of the 2010 World Cup, a match that Spain won 1-0 en route to their first world title. However, Portugal can draw confidence from a 4-0 win over Spain in a 2010 friendly.
Another boost for Portugal comes from Cristiano Ronaldo, who has found his scoring touch for the national team, finding the net three times in the past two matches at the tournament. “Our weapons are not a secret, our weapons are the same ones we’ve used in all of our games,” Custódio said. “Our way of playing is going to be the same. Our way of playing when we have the ball is going to be exactly the same.
“We’re going to try to play our aggressive game, what we have in the attack. We’re going to fight a lot, we’re going to fight a lot when we don’t have the ball. We’re going to try to get it back as quick as possible.”