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Portugal v Bulgaria: Fonte eager to make an impression as Euros draw closer

Jose Fonte is determined to make a good impression on coach Fernando Santos when Portugal step up their preparations for Euro 2016 with a friendly against Bulgaria on Friday.

Centre-back Fonte is expected to be part of Santos’ 23-man squad for the upcoming tournament and started their most recent match, a 2-0 victory over Luxembourg last November.

However, the Southampton captain is taking nothing for granted.

“Any player who has been called up has aspirations to be at the Euros, but must be at their best level at their club to earn the trust of the coach,” Fonte said.

“All players have that ambition and we will all do our best to make it happen.”

Wednesday saw disruption to Portugal’s schedule over the coming week, with their friendly against Belgium in Brussels next Tuesday first cancelled and then rearranged in the wake of the terrorist attacks in the Belgian capital.

Like Friday’s game, that match will now take place in Leiria, but Fonte insists Portugal are concentrating solely on the challenge posed by Bulgaria rather than looking ahead to what is sure to be a subdued contest with the world’s top-ranked team.

“They are difficult games – preparation games, in order to prepare the best way for the Euros,” the 32-year-old added.

“We will give full attention to Bulgaria, knowing that Belgium is number one in the ranking and will be a test in which we are eager to play. 

“We like to play against the best teams and against the best in the world. We will focus first on Bulgaria, then think about Belgium.”

Fonte also spoke of the positivity within the Portugal camp as they look forward to Euro 2016, where they will compete with Iceland, Austria and Hungary in Group F.

“We are a fortunate because this group is fantastic, we all get along with each other. There is a great atmosphere. It’s a dream to be in Euros and try to win it,” he continued.

Returning captain Cristiano Ronaldo is expected to feature at Estadio Dr Magalhaes Pessoa after Santos rested his star man for last November’s friendlies against Russia and Luxembourg. 

Bulgaria’s last seven matches away from home have yielded just one win, which came in Malta during a qualifying campaign that saw them finish fourth and eight points adrift of securing even a play-off spot.

This match represents the first meeting between Portugal and Bulgaria since November 1992. Portugal won that game 2-1.

Wed 23 Mar, 2016
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