Portugal must avoid defeat against the Netherlands on Sunday and match Denmark’s result versus Germany to make the Euro 2012 quarter-finals.
Coach Paulo Bento will be hopeful captain Cristiano Ronaldo can overcome his poor start to the European Championships and produce a top-class performance.
After a 1-0 loss to Germany in their opening game of Euro 2012, Portugal put themselves within touching distance of the knockout stages with a stunning 3-2 victory over Denmark on Wednesday.
But Bento’s side have done so without much of a contribution from Ronaldo and if the 27-year-old forward can replicate his form for Real Madrid with his country, Portugal should account for a disjointed Dutch team.
Ronaldo was barely sighted in the first half against Germany and missed two great chances to score in the second half against Denmark with the game in the balance.
In the end it was Silvestre Varela that scored the winning goal for Portugal after Denmark had fought back from 2-0 down to equalise in the 80th minute.
Ronaldo has scored just five goals for his country in 21 matches at major tournaments at a ratio worse than a goal every four games.
That is much lower than his overall international scoring ratio, which is better than one goal every three games, or his overall club record, which is almost two goals for every three matches.
Portugal have downplayed Ronaldo’s lack of form so far in Poland and Ukraine but will be hoping the Real Madrid attacker can improve against the Netherlands in time for the quarter-finals.
After their win over Denmark, Portugal are second in Group B on three points, equal with the Danes.
As long as they avoid defeat against the Dutch and achieve the same result as Denmark, Portugal will advance from their group because teams finishing on equal points are split according to their head-to-head record.
The Netherlands head into Sunday’s game knowing only a victory can keep them alive.
The Dutch have lost both Group B matches so far and have scored just one goal and coach Bert van Marwijk is expected to make a number of changes for the clash against Portugal.
Van Marwijk may be tempted to start with both Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Robin van Persie as a forward partnership after starting the former on the bench in the first two games.
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