Thursday, July 27, 2017

Portugal v Estonia: Fernando Santos dreams of long-awaited European glory

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 6 Jun 2016

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Fernando Santos is dreaming of silverware as Portugal prepare to take on Estonia in their last friendly before Euro 2016 on Wednesday.

Portugal have become a force to be reckoned with in European football over the past three decades and have made it to the semi-finals of the competition in four of their six appearances.

They progressed to the final during the 2004 edition on home soil, with Greece eventually emerging victorious, but have yet to lift the trophy.

But Santos – who led Greece to the quarter-finals of Euro 2012 and the last 16 of the World Cup two years ago – refuses to give up and hopes Portugal can go all the way this time around.

“If we think of the generations of players we have had, it’s about time [we win a European title],” Santos told Marca. 

“Portugal should have already won a European title, but it does not always work like this.

“Just look at Spain, they had many excellent generations, but never won it. They then won it at last and went on to win a number of major titles.

“Just look at the example of Greece in 2004. Nobody ever thought they would be crowned champions.”

Santos opted to rest Cristiano Ronaldo and Pepe in last week’s friendly against England following the duo’s Champions League final appearance for Real Madrid, but both could play a part in Wednesday’s game as Portugal prepare for their Group F opener versus Iceland six days later.

Estonia and Portugal last met in June 2009, playing out a scoreless draw in Tallinn, but Santos’ men will be favourites to go into the finals with a win against an opponent focusing on the upcoming campaign for 2018 World Cup qualification.

Magnus Pehrsson’s Estonia failed to qualify for the Euros as England, Switzerland and Slovenia proved too strong in their group. They will face Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Greece and Cyprus in World Cup qualifying.

Pehrsson has called up a number of promising youngsters, but 17-year-old Fulham midfielder Mattias Kait misses out this time, having made his senior debut back in January.

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