Portugal Camp Focus – Queiroz silences his critics, as Portugal prepare for their sternest test yet

After Portugal’s emphatic victory over DPR Korea, their biggest challenge may be to keep their focus and dampen expectation ahead of their final group game against Brazil. The result will have done wonders for the confidence of the team, but they are not home and hosed yet – as you would expect in the ominously titled ‘Group of Death’, heartache may yet be in store.

Portugal know that their progression is eminently probable after the resounding victory and a second clean sheet of the tournament left them with a healthy goal difference of plus seven. A draw would guarantee their progression and Ivory Coast can only qualify in the event that Portugal lose and the Ivorians win with a nine-goal swing. Despite the likelihood of progression, Portugal have not qualified yet and Carlos Queiroz was quick to warn against complacency after recognising the positive aspects of the victory: “We certainly put up a great performance, and got a great result. Further to that, the three points must give us the intellgience to say that we have not won the World Cup with just one match like that, but it is imperative that we continue to advance.” From the outset, the Coach had identified: “Deep down, I hope that we’re already qualified by the time we face Brazil in our third match,” and with this albeit achieved, Portugal will have two principal aims going in to their third group game.

Firstly they will be looking to build upon their gathering momentum as they head into the knockout stages. Somewhat slow and sluggish in their opening game against Ivory Coast – possibly explained by the emphasis placed upon avoiding defeat in their World Cup opener – the change of personnel for their second outing produced marked improvements in key areas. Hugo Almeida provided a focal point for the attack, a pivot around which the wingers could rotate and bamboozle the opposition defence, allowing talisman Cristiano Ronaldo to roam freely about the attacking third. A previously forlorn figure beneath the captain’s armband, Ronaldo was able to influence the pace of the game in the second-half due to the shape of the side brought about by Almeida’s presence. Similarly, the Werder Bremen frontman also provided a target for the defence to hit with direct balls to the frontline, allowing them to quickly and effectively alleviate pressure and launch their devastating counter-attacks. In the first match, Li


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