Portugal manager Santos: 'We know the characteristics of these British teams'

The European Championship winning-coach has been giving his view ahead of tomorrow’s World Cup qualifier in Faro.

Fernando Santos with Cristiano Ronaldo at Portugal training yesterday.
Fernando Santos with Cristiano Ronaldo at Portugal training yesterday.
Image: Armando Franca

THE GOSPEL OF Stephen Kenny has yet to spread to Portugal. 

A year to the day since Kenny said he wanted to shed Ireland’s association with a “British style”, Portugal manager Fernando Santos described Ireland as, well, you guessed it.  

“We know the characteristics of these British teams”, said Santos at his pre-match press conference in Lisbon, remarks reported by local outlet A Bola. 

“For them, the game never ends under any circumstances. They always give everything.”

Ireland will need to give everything and more to pull off a result in their World Cup qualifier in Faro tomorrow night.

It offers Stephen Kenny’s side a mightily slim chance of salvaging their campaign, but internationally the game at the Estadio Algarve has largely been seen as the stage upon which Cristiano Ronaldo can notch his latest mind-bending record: a single goal against Ireland will make him the all-time record goalscorer in men’s international football. 

Santos, however, downplayed the significance of the record on the game itself, saying his side needed to focus on winning the game in the first place. 

“We only thought about the game against Ireland. We have to be strong…It would be bad if we were focused on these aspects.”

Speaking a day earlier, however, Goncalo Guedes admitted the team would be doing all they could to help Ronaldo break the record. 

Portugal top Group A, level on points with Serbia, with Ireland adrift with zero points from two games, kept off the bottom by virtue of having scored a goal more than Azerbaijan. 

Santos, however, says the standings will count for little in Faro tomorrow night. 

“[Ireland] played two very strong games against Hungary and Serbia. It is not a team that only plays in defensive action, the forwards are in a position to come out on the counterattack.

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“It’s up to us to resolve these issues. 

“It takes speed to dismantle this team and, if we do it well and are focused, and organised, I believe Portugal will win. We have quality players, but we need to be a team.

“Today it is not easy to win against anyone. We have to be at our best level and, if Ireland are also at their best level, we have the quality to turn the game around for our side.”

Portugal have the most of their constellation of stars available for this game, with Bruno Fernandes, Diogo Jota, Bernardo Silva, Joao Cancelo, Pepe, Ruben Neves, Joao Moutinho, Raphael Guerreiro and Ruben Dias all named in the squad along with Ronaldo. Joao Felix and Renato Sanches miss out with injury, while Leicester’s Ricardo Pereira has been forced to withdraw through injury. He has been replaced by Nelson Semedo of Wolves. 

The Portuguese FA confirmed the Estadio Algarve will be a quarter-full for tomorrow’s game, with 7,865 fans in the ground. Uefa have limited the sale of tickets to home fans. 

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