Having dismantled Germany in stunning fashion, Rui Jorge’s Portugal can write their name into UEFA European Under-21 Championship history against Sweden in Tuesday’s final.
Portugal hit top gear to put five past 2009 winners Germany in Olomouc on Saturday as the likes of Bernardo Silva and William Carvalho showcased their huge potential.
Sweden also recorded a convincing victory – thumping Scandinavian neighbours Denmark 4-1 – and, like Portugal, will contest their second final.
Portugal’s sole previous final appearance came in 1994 when a side including future greats such as Luis Figo and Rui Costa fell to an Italian team that featured the likes of Fabio Cannavaro and Filippo Inzaghi.
However, Jorge is confident his side have what it takes to break new ground and lift the trophy, explaining: “We have a lot of trust in these players.
“All this time they’ve been with us, they have shown total commitment, passion, respect, and I am delighted they are showing just how good they are.
“Our main role here is to help their development and to give them the right conditions to continue showing their ability.
“It is an historic moment for Portuguese football at under-21 level. We’ve already reached one final in 1994 but that was in a different format so to get here is historic.
“I don’t think there was a tactical secret [behind the win over Germany]. It was the quality of our players and the intensity they put into the game.”
Portugal and Sweden shared the spoils when they met in the group stage of the competition – a result that saw Portugal top Group B by a point.
Goals in the last eight minutes from Goncalo Pacienca and Simon Tibbling ensured a point apiece, with the latter’s 89th-minute strike the only goal Portugal have conceded in the competition.
Sweden coach Hakan Ericson says his side will take confidence from Portugal’s hammering of Germany, given their recent group-stage draw.
“To reach the final after coming through a difficult group is a great boost for the team,” Ericson said.
“Portugal showed [against Germany] they’re a very good team, but we played them just a few days ago and we drew 1-1.
“They have now beaten a great football nation like Germany, so that boosts our confidence a lot.”
Like Portugal, Sweden were beaten by Italy in their previous final appearance, losing out 2-1 on aggregate in a two-legged affair in 1992.
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