Portugal coach Luiz Felipe Scolari praised his side for reaching the Euro 2008 quarter-finals and promptly kicked off the mind-games by talking up potential semi-final opponents Germany.
“Big Phil” – who was confirmed as the new Chelsea coach on Wednesday night – was delighted as Portugal enjoy a maximum six points at the top of Group A following their 3-1 win over the Czech Republic at the Stade de Geneve on Wednesday.
Manchester United play-maker Cristiano Ronaldo provided two of the goals and scored one himself to see off the Czechs.
If the Portuguese beat Switzerland in Basel on Sunday in their final group game, they will reach the last eight with a perfect pool record.
Barcelona's Deco gave Portugal an eighth-minute lead against the Czechs, before midfielder Libor Sionko equalised with a diving header on 17 minutes, but Ronaldo sealed the game with a superb shot in the 63rd minute.
And he then turned provider for Portuguese substitute Ricardo Quaresma to score a third goal in extra-time.
The Portuguese are on a collision course to potentially meet Germany in the semi-finals and Scolari wasted no time in talking up the German squad.
“There are a lot of good squads in the tournament, but I can tell you the best team is Germany,” said Scolari, who won the 2002 World Cup with Brazil at the Germans' expense.
“They are playing really well and if we keep progressing we will probably meet them in the semi-finals and we would have to raise our game.”
But with Deco and Ronaldo both firing on all cylinders, Scolari said his current Portugal squad was the best one he has worked with.
“This team is very capable and very qualified, it is a good omen for the future for a team which has had a lot of difficulties in the past few years,” said Scolari.
“We have to respect our opponents, but if we carry on playing like a unit, we will have a good chance of going far.
“I think we have to give our all during this Euro, with six points from our group games, we are in the knockout phase.
“We want to win the group, beating the Czech team means we can allow our players to rest tomorrow before playing Switzerland.
“I am very pleased with this victory, it means we have reached our target in only the second match – it's an historic occasion for Portugal.”
After Scolari took Portugal to the Euro 2004 final where they lost to Greece, “Big Phil” says his side are hungry to go one better.
“I have managed to forge a solid team and I am very happy, the players are fit and bright, their eyes are shining they are working for each other,” he said.
“There are still things I want to work on, I want to organise the side better against Switzerland, we are happy to be amongst the best eight squads in Europe, but we want more than that of course.
“At the moment, they are the best physically coached team I have worked with”.
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