EURO 2012 GROUP of Death:Madrid’s star,Manchester’s jewel and London’s Champion.

Portugal has been drawn in  the same group with the Netherlands,Germany and Denmark.Portugal kick off their EURO 2012 campaign against the Germans on June 9.

@portugoaldotnet will be following Portugal over the course of Euro 2012 tournament, from the pre-tournament preparation to the match days themselves, covering everything you need to know about A Selecção!

Here’s a quick profile of the team:


Portugal has been a major candidate to take the trophy in any of big tournaments for the last decade. They even reached the final once, but every time they had to leave the tournament without the Cup. They have collected another ambitious team to conquer the European Championship. Portugal is ranked 10th in the current FIFA Ranking,just one place behind Denmark.

Paulo Bento was appointed to coach the Seleccao after Carlos Queiroz was dismissed in 2010. He won several important matches just to fail in the end, losing the last game to rivals Denmark. The Play-offs turned to be successful and the team qualified for their 7th major tournament in a row.

The times of Luis Figo’s golden generation are gone without any senior triumph. Now it is time for Cristiano Ronaldo’s generation to attempt the football heights.

Portugal have won just one of their last six matches (W1, D3, L2).Three of Portugal’s last five games have ended goalless.

Statistics against

Germany:

Germany has met Portugal on 16 occasions,beating Ronaldo’s men 8 times.Rui Costa got one of the most controversial red cards in the football history, when, winning against the Germans by one goal, he was too slow to leave the pitch while being substituted. Germany managed to equalize, which was enough to win the group and leave Portugal without the World Cup. This was the qualification campaign for World Cup 1998 – the last time the Portuguese did not qualify for a major tournament. Two years later at the 2000 European Championships,Portugal had a sweet revenge over the Germans.Sérgio Conceição scored a  hattrick in Portugal’s 3-0 win and sent the Germans packing as they finished bottom of their group.Revenge will be on Portugal’s mind as the Germans eliminated them from the EUROs 4 years ago.The Mannschaft beat Luiz Felipe Scolari’s Portugal 3-2 at the quarter-final stage en route to a 1-0 final defeat by Spain.The Seleccao are meeting Germany for the 17th time, with their head-to head record reading W3, D5, L8.

Denmark: 

The last two times in Copenhagen were must-win visits for Portugal, where they did not pass the test and were ought to try their luck in play-offs. However, the most thrilling match took place in Lisboa in 2008, where yet another boring match was about to finish with a score of 1-0, when suddenly the teams went wild five minutes before the final whistle. At first it got 1-1, a minute later 2-1, four minutes later 2-2 and deep inside the injury time 2-3, with Daniel Jensen leaving Portugal in shock.

Netherlands:

Only once have the Dutch won against the Portuguese so far, with the “battle of Nuremberg” being no exception, when at the World Cup 2006 Round of 16 match the sides received 16 yellow and 4 red cards in total, a FIFA all-time record. The Portuguese managed to score a goal at some point through Maniche,the same player who scored against the Dutch in EURO 2004.

IT’S PAYBACK TIME|Seleccao out to avenge Euro 2008 quarter-final defeat in Group B clash

Portugal will seek revenge against Germany for their elimination in the quarter-finals of Euro 2008, when the two clash again in Group B on Saturday.

After the successes of the Euro 2004 and the 2006 FIFA World Cup, Portugal was seen as a major contender to win the Euro 2008, but their qualification wasn’t easy. The national team faced some problems in the last games, in addition, Scolari was suspended for three games, being substituted by his assistant manager. Portugal ended with seven wins and twenty-seven points (one less than first-placed Poland). Armenia. Azerbaijan, Belgium, Finland, Kazakhstan, Poland and Serbia were the opponents. With important triumphs against Azerbaijan (2–0 in Baku), Kazakhstan (2–1 in Almaty) and Belgium (4–0 in Lisbon and 2–1 in Brussels), they managed to qualify for the final stage.

Portugal’s first game was against Turkey and it was won 2–0, with first-ever scoring achievements for internationals Pepe and Raul Meireles. Their second game was against the Czech Republic, a 3–1 success. With assured qualification to the knockout stage, as first in group A, they played with the reserve team against Switzerland, and lost 2–0, with two Hakan Yakın goals.

Portugal played against Germany, and were beaten 2–3 after falling behind 0–2 within the first half an hour. Portugal proceeded to score, followed by another German goal, a Michael Ballack header. Portugal scored a consolation goal in the final minutes of normal time, courtesy of Hélder Postiga, but was eventually knocked out of Euro 2008 at the quarterfinal stage.

HOW THEY QUALIFIED

Portugal got off to a dismal start to their Euro 2012 qualifying campaign, losing five points in their first two games as Agostinho Oliveira replaced suspended coach Carlos Queiroz on the bench. It was a fairly poor first two games, drawing with Cyprus and losing to Norway.Former Sporting Lisbon coach Paulo Bento took over and brought with him some much-needed stability.

Portugal also faced Iceland in the qualifiers.It was the first time Portugal and Iceland faced each other with victories for the Quinas on both legs. The Seleccao went on to win five consecutive matches, but new internal problems caused by Ricardo Carvalho’s early retirement saw them lose the final qualifying match, against Denmark. The defeat sent them to the play-offs, where they met Bosnia and Herzegovina. After a goalless draw in Zenica, Portugal secured a 6-2 victory to book a place in Poland and Ukraine.

GROUP H GP GD PTS
1 Denmark (Q) 8 6 1 1 9 19
2 Portugal (Q) 8 5 1 2 9 16
3 Norway 8 5 1 2 3 16
4 Iceland 8 1 1 6 -8 4
5 Cyprus 8 0 2 6 -13 2

TOP SCORERS

7 – Cristiano Ronaldo
5 – Nani,Helder Postiga
2 – Danny,Raul Meireles,Hugo Almeida
1 – Manuel Fernandes, Joao Moutinho,Eliseu,Miguel Veloso

PAST RECORDS IN THE EUROS

Portugal took part of the first European Championship, in 1960, where they reached the quarter-finals of the competition after defeating East Germany but took them 24 years to return to the finals, reaching the semi-finals of the competition.

It took Portugal another 12 years to make an appearance at the European Championships again. After reaching the quarter-finals and the semi-finals at Euro 1996 and Euro 2000, respectively, the Seleccao suffered a dramatic defeat at home in the Euro 2004 final against Greece. Four years later, they could not go beyond the quarter-finals as they suffered a 3-2 defeat against eventual runners-up Germany.

1960
Quarter-finalists
1988
Did not qualify
1964
Did not qualify
1992
Did not qualify
1968
Did not qualify
1996
Quarter-finalists
1972
Did not qualify 2000
Semi-finalists
1976
Did not qualify 2004
Runners-up
1980
Did not qualify 2008
Quarter-finalists
1984
Semi-finalists
2012
Qualified through play-offs

REBEL | Paulo Bento

It is definitely good news that all the Portuguese players who are playing abroad can achieve the objectives at their clubs. I do not think there will be more pressure on Cristiano. On the contrary: we don’t ask Cristiano to solve all the problems of the national team. These issues must be solved by the group and the better the group is, the better the conditions are for the individual players to shine.”-Paulo Bento

Bento enjoyed a dream start in charge of Portugal as he won his first five competitive matches.Already the second most successful manager in the history of Sporting Lisbon in terms of trophies won (only surpassed by the legendary Josef Szabo), Bento gained the nickname “Papa-Taças” as a consequence of the four pieces of silverware added to Sporting’s cabinet under his command.After a 1–1 home draw in the UEFA Europa League group stage against Latvian side FK Ventspils on November 5, 2009, and facing considerable pressure to step down, Bento resigned as manager of Sporting.Under his supervision, highly rated young players such as Nani, João Moutinho and Miguel Veloso, all of them raised in Sporting’s youth roster, bursted into the spotlight.

Born in Lisbon,Paulo Jorge Gomes Bento,42,is the youngest coach at EURO 2012.On 20 September 2010, following Queiroz’s dismissal after a poor start to the Euro 2012 qualifying campaign, Bento was named his successor, initially until the last match of that stage.His first game in charge came on 8 October, a 3–1 win against Denmark in Porto.Taking control of the Seleccao is only Paulo Bento’s second coaching experience at senior level.On 17 November, Portugal defeated World Cup champions Spain 4–0 in Lisbon, imposing the largest defeat to its Iberian neighbours since 13 June 1963 (2–6 against Scotland, in another friendly).

He was a  defensive midfielder with tackling ability and work rate.He played for two of the major three teams in his country, amassing top division totals of 284 games and 16 goals over the course of 11 seasons, and also spent four years in Spain. He represented the Portuguese national team in one World Cup and one European Championship.

Bento then took up a coaching career, managing Sporting during four years and four months, with relative success, and also being in charge of the national team.Bento played professionally in his homeland for C.F. Estrela da Amadora, Vitória de Guimarães and S.L. Benfica, and had a four-year abroad spell with La Liga side Real Oviedo (helping the Asturias outfit to always maintain its top flight status) before moving to Sporting Clube de Portugal, where he finished his career as a player.With Sporting, he was part of the star-studded team that achieved the double in 2002 – contributing with 31 games and one goal in the league – under the direction of Laszlo Bölöni, playing alongside João Vieira Pinto and Mário Jardel, among others.

Bento gained 35 caps for the Portuguese national team, his first game coming on 15 January 1992 in a 0–0 draw with Spain; his last was the 0–1 loss to South Korea on 14 June 2002, in the 2002 FIFA World Cup. He also played at UEFA Euro 2000 where, along with teammates Abel Xavier – who played with him at Oviedo for two seasons – and Nuno Gomes, he was suspended (in Bento’s case for five months) due to bad behavior, during the semi-final loss with France.

After an emotional 2004 retirement, aged 35, Bento got the job of Sporting’s youth team coach. He won the junior championship in 2005, and developed a base to the future. After the sacking of José Peseiro, midway through 2005–06, he was promoted to first-team duties, a somewhat surprising decision given his relatively little experience in management. To most observers, he was seen as an interim at the post, handling the team until a more prestigious manager was found.

Bento’s team broke a number of long-standing club records, including the first season without home defeats since 1987, the first capture of back-to-back Portuguese cups since 1974 and the first time since 1962 that Sporting finished three consecutive seasons in the top two league positions. At the age of 38, Bento also became only the fifth manager in the history of Portuguese football to win back-to-back Portuguese cups (alongside the likes of Janos Biri, John Mortimore or José Maria Pedroto).

Bento’s strong personality has earned him conflicts with Ricardo Carvalho and Bosingwa, both of whom have already retired from international football, and this raised doubts about his capacity to put together a stable group. However, the 6-2 thrashing of Bosnia in the play-offs has restored hope in the fans that he is the right man for the job.

Ricardo Carvalho and Jose Bosingwa were not named, having long fallen out with Bento. Cristiano Ronaldo will captain the team.

Squad:

Goalkeepers: Rui Patricio (Sporting Lisbon), Eduardo (Benfica), Beto (CFR-Cluj)

Defenders: Bruno Alves (Zenit Saint-Petersburg), Fabio Coentrao (Real Madrid), Joao Pereira (Sporting Lisbon), Pepe (Real Madrid), Ricardo Costa (Valencia), Rolando (FC Porto), Miguel Lopes (Sporting Braga)

Midfielders: Carlos Martins (Granada), Joao Moutinho (FC Porto), Custodio (Sporting Braga), Miguel Veloso (Genoa), Raul Meireles (Chelsea), Ruben Micael (Real Zaragoza)

Forwards: Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid), Hugo Almeida (Besiktas), Helder Postiga (Real Zaragoza), Nani (Manchester United), Nelson Oliveira (Benfica), Ricardo Quaresma (Besiktas), Silvestre Varela (FC Porto)

 

STAR | Cristiano Ronaldo

“Ronaldo? For me, he is the best player in the world, and it is normal for him to get the attention he does.However, in football one does not win alone. He needs a good supporting team around him, so he can be at his best. I believe we have a very good team that will allow him and everyone else to shine during the competition.”-Hugo Almeida (Portugal striker and Besiktas forward)

UEFA honours
UEFA EURO 2004: runner-up
UEFA EURO 2004: All-Star Squad
UEFA Champions League: winner 2008, runner-up 2009
UEFA Champions League: leading scorer 2007/08
UEFA Club Footballer of the Year: 2008
UEFA Club Forward of the Year: 2008
UEFA.com users’ Team of the Year: 2004, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011

Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro (27) became the most expensive footballer in history after moving from Manchester United to Real Madrid in a transfer worth £80 million (€93.9 million/$131.6 million). In addition, his contract with Real Madrid, in which he is paid €12 million per year, makes him one of the highest-paid footballers in the world,and his buyout clause is valued at €1 billion as per his contract.He is the only player in La Liga history to score at least 40 goals in two seasons, even doing so in consecutive seasons. 

In 2008, Ronaldo became Manchester United’s first Ballon d’Or recipient since George Best in 1968.  Four days later, he became the first Premier League player ever to be named the FIFA World Player of the Year, in addition to being the first Portuguese player to win the award since Luís Figo in 2001.

He has been described as a skillful winger and striker who will take on any defender with his dribbling and pace; he hits his free kicks with power and pace, and is able to beat defenders off the dribble and cross the ball. He is able to score with his head and feet.

The Real Madrid star was given the armband when Carlos Queiroz took over and he has been doing a good job as Selecao’s skipper, even during the team’s most difficult moments. Arguably approaching peak age for a footballer, Ronaldo is perhaps the most iconic player at these finals.

Cristiano Ronaldo  netted seven times in eight qualifiers, taking his international goals tally to 32, level with Luis Figo. Only Pauleta (47) and Eusebio (41) have scored more.

Born in Funchal, Madeira, Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro began his career as a youth player for Andorinha, where he played for two years, before moving to C.D. Naciona.In 1997,he joined Sporting Clube de Portugal after a successful trial and scored twice on his league debut; was whisked away to Old Trafford at 18 after impressing Manchester United FC players in a pre-season friendly to inaugurate Sporting’s new stadium the Estádio José Alvalade in Lisbon for £12.24 million (€15 million) in 2003.Thus,becoming Manchester United’s first-ever Portuguese player

The following season, Ronaldo won his first club honour, the FA Cup,scoring the opener in a 3-0 final defeat of Millwall FC.He also played at Euro 2004 with Portugal and scored his first international goal in the opening game of the tournament against Greece, in addition to helping Portugal reach the final. He was featured in the UEFA Euro All-Star Team of this competition.He also represented Portugal at the 2004 Summer Olympics.He scored ten goals in all competitions, and fans voted him to his first FIFPro Special Young Player of the Year award in 2005.

Ronaldo won his second trophy in English football in the 2005–06 season, scoring the third goal in Manchester United’s 4–0 Football League Cup final victory over Wigan Athletic.

CR7 was the second-highest scorer in the 2006 FIFA World Cup qualification in the European zone with seven goals.and helped Portugal reach the semi-finals; returned to England and enjoyed a brilliant 2006/07 campaign, winning the league with United and both player and footballer of the year prizes (as well as the young player gong).

That season proved to be the breakout year for Ronaldo, as he broke the 20 goal barrier for the first time.He scored his 50th Manchester United goal against city rivals Manchester City on 5 May 2007 as United claimed their first Premier League title in four years, and he was voted into his second consecutive FIFPro Special Young Player of the Year award at the end of the year.

Ronaldo amassed a host of personal awards for the season. He won the PFA Players’ Player of the Year and PFA Young Player of the Year awards, joining Andy Gray (in 1977) as the only players to receive this honour. In April, he completed the treble by winning the PFA Fans’ Player of the Year. Ronaldo was also one of eight Manchester United players named in the 2006–07 PFA Premier League Team of the Year.

He retained both those personal accolades in 2007/08 thanks to a phenomenal scoring run: top marksman in the Premier League (31 goals) and UEFA Champions League (eight), both of which United won.

After scoring the only goal in a Champions League away match against Sporting, Ronaldo also scored the injury-time winner in the return fixture as Manchester United topped their Champions League group. Ronaldo wrapped up the campaign with a career-high 42 goals in all competitions, falling four short of Denis Law’s team-record mark of 46 in the 1963–64 season.

He finished as the runner-up to Kaká for the 2007 Ballon d’Or,and was third in the running for the FIFA World Player of the Year award, behind Kaká and Lionel Messi.Ronaldo is the first player to win all four main PFA and FWA awards, doing so in 2007.Ronaldo’s scoring streak was rewarded with his becoming the first winger to win the 2007–08 European Golden Shoe.He was named best forward and player of the tournament and was the competition’s top goalscorer as well as winning the European Golden Shoe, becoming the first winger to do so, and topping the Premier League Golden Boot award.

Ronaldo wrapped up the campaign with a career-high 42 goals in all competitions, falling four short of Denis Law’s team-record mark of 46 in the 1963–64 season.He won three of the four main PFA and FWA trophies, only missing the PFA Young Player of the Year, and was named the FIFPro, World Soccer, Onze d’Or,and the FIFA World Player of the Year, in addition to becoming Manchester United’s first Ballon d’Or winner in 40 years.

The following season,he was awarded the Silver Ball after finishing with two goals as United won the Club World Cup on 19 December.He finished with 53 appearances in all competitions, which was four higher than the previous year, but scored sixteen fewer goals (26) than his career-best total of 42 from the previous season.
Ronaldo holds the distinction of being the first player to win the FIFA Puskás Award, in 2009, an honour handed by FIFA to the best goal of the year. He scored that goal from 40 yards out against Porto in a UEFA Champions League quarter-final match, while playing for Manchester United.He was second in the 2009 FIFA World Player of the Year award and also second in the 2009 Ballon d’Or award.
Ronaldo signed a six-year contract with Madrid in June 2009 after a world record €92m move and in his second season picked up the ESM Golden Shoe, registering a record 40 Liga goals in 34 games, and headed the winner in the Copa del Rey final against Barcelona.

After moving to Real Madrid in 2009,he scored 33 goals in his first season. In his second season, Ronaldo became the highest goalscorer in a season in the history of Real Madrid with 53 goals, surpassing the club’s previous high of 49 by Ferenc Puskás. During this season Ronaldo broke the record of most goals ever scored in a season in La Liga with 40, surpassing Telmo Zarra’s and Hugo Sánchez’s mark (38 goals) established in 1951 and 1990, respectively. Ronaldo also broke Zarra’s record of most goals per minute, with a goal scored every 70.7 minutes. By doing so, he won the European Golden Shoe award once again,becoming the first player to win the trophy in two different championships.

Ronaldo failed to make an impact in the World Cup; after going scoreless in the qualifiers, his only goal came in Portugal’s 7–0 group stage thrashing of North Korea which marked his first international goal in 16 months.Portugal were eliminated by Spain in the Round of 16.He was third in the 2010–11 UEFA Best Player in Europe Award and second in the 2011 FIFA Ballon d’Or.

In March,Ronaldo became the fastest La Liga player to score 100 goals in the league.He broke his previous record of 40 goals in a La Liga season in the 2011–12 season; by doing so, he became first player to reach 40 goals in a single season in two consecutive years in any of the top European leagues. On 13 May 2012, the last matchday, Ronaldo scored against Mallorca which made him the first player ever to score against every team in a single season in La Liga.He finished the season with 60 goals in every competition, breaking the Real Madrid record he had set the previous season,but it was not enough to retain the ESM Golden Shoe due to Lionel Messi’s astonishing half-century of strikes for Barcelona.

JEWEL| Luis Nani

“Nani’s got the potential to do what he wants. He’s one of the sharpest players around, has a great strike with both feet – he’s got the potential to be a top, top player.”– Manchester United team-mate Rio Ferdinand on Nani


 
Absent from the 2010 FIFA World Cup through injury, Luís Carlos Almeida da Cunha (25), commonly known as Nani,returned to the international stage with a bang in UEFA EURO 2012 qualifying, starting all ten games and scoring five goals. A nifty, unpredictable winger who can operate on either flank, he has become an increasingly valuable figure at Manchester United.Nani gained his nickname from his sister at a young age.
He made his senior international debut in September 2006 in a friendly match against Denmark and scored his first international goal during the 4–2 defeat in Copenhagen. Since his debut, he has made 52 appearances and scored 12 goals for Portugal.Nani also scored twice and assisted once in Paulo Bento’s first game in charge of Portugal in a 3–1 EURO 2012 qualifying win over Denmark again on 8 October 2010.

The winger took longer than Cristiano Ronaldo to cement his place in Portugal’s set-up, but his rise in form in the last two seasons at Manchester United has been witnessed in his international displays: Nani was the Seleccao’s second-highest scorer during the Euro 2012 qualifying campaign, on five goals.

Born in the Cape Verde Islands, Nani emigrated to Europe with his family at an early age.Nani was raised by his aunt after being abandoned by his parents.Around the age of 14, Nani’s older brother took him to train with Real Massamá.They helped him obtain an ID Card and a passport.At the age of 16, Nani was training on alternate days with Sporting and Benfica  before Sporting offered him pre-season training.Despite growing up in Lisbon, Nani and his brother supported Porto as a boy and his footballing hero was Luís Figo.Nani joined Sporting CP from his first club Real Massamá.
After two seasons in the youth team, where he won the National Junior Championship in 2004–05, Nani was promoted to the first team early in the 2005–06 season.He made his debut for Sporting Clube de Portugal in a UEFA Champions League third qualifying round encounter with Udinese Calcio in 2005.Nani ended the first season of his career with 36 appearances and five goals in all competitions.
After a 2006/07 season in which he helped Sporting to Portuguese Cup glory and the runners-up spot in the Liga behind FC Porto for the second successive campaign, he moved to United on a five-year deal for €25.5m,five percent of which was paid to Real de Massamá.

Nani won the Community Shield on his competitive debut at the club and has since added a number of trophies which included the Premier League and Champions League during his debut season at the club. In and out of the United team in 2007/08, he nevertheless featured as an extra-time substitute in the UEFA Champions League final in Moscow, where he scored a penalty in the Red Devils’ shoot-out victory against Chelsea FC.

He played three times at EURO 2008 for Luiz Felipe Scolari’s Portugal.Nani started just one,but did provide the assist for Hélder Postiga’s goal during a substitute appearance in the 3–2 quarter-final defeat to Germany on 19 June.

He was less involved the following season at club level as United retained the Premier League title and lost the UEFA Champions League showpiece to FC Barcelona, for which he was an unused substitute.

Nani came into his own in 2009/10 after the sale of compatriot Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid CF; started half of United’s top-flight matches, scored twice in the UEFA Champions League quarter-final second leg against FC Bayern München but missed the 2010 World Cup because of an injury to his left collarbone.

He has established himself as first-choice winger at Manchester United and has won a further Premier League title, the Football League Cup, one FIFA Club World Cup, and three Community Shield titles. Individually, Nani has been included into the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) Premier League Team of the Year on one occasion and was a nominee for the PFA Young Player of the Year alongside teammate Javier Hernández in 2011.Nani lost out to Jack Wilshere for the PFA Young Player of the Year award.He was awarded for his outstanding season as he was voted Players’ Player of the Year at the club’s awards night.

He played an integral role − 11 appearances − in the Red Devils reaching the 2011 UEFA Champions League final at Wembley, where, once again, United were beaten by Barcelona.

Nani began the 2011-12 season by putting in a man of the match performance and scoring twice against derby rivals Manchester City in the 2011 Community Shield. Nani sustained a foot injury  this year,not being able to play for 2 months but made his comeback last month.Nani scored in United’s 4-4 draw against Everton,the game that cost them the league.Nani scored 10 goals in all competitions this season.

The youngest member of the Portugal squad at the 2006 UEFA Under-21 Championship,Nani appeared in all three games, before Portugal bowed out in group stages.During the 2007 European Under-21 Football Championship, he made four appearances.Six members of the current Portugal side were part of that team.

Nani is desperate to prove his worth on the biggest international stages, and the Euro 2012 finals will provide just that opportunity.

Largely used from the bench, he registered six goals in all competitions as Bayern won the Bundesliga/German Cup double again in 2009/10.Klose was selected in Germany’s final 23-man squad, and for his third successive World Cup campaign.Klose scored 4 goals in South Africa.He needs just one goal to equal Ronaldo’s 15 goals but I don’t think he will make the next World Cup squad.
Klose sustained two injuries in the beginning of the 2010–11 season. After he had made a full recovery, he lost his place in the team  to in form Mario Gomez and Olic.On 6 June 2011, he opted to experience club football outside of Germany with a move in June 2011 to Lazio, for whom he scored on his European and Serie A debuts.

He was prolific in the first half of the season and mid-way through the second until a thigh injury ruled him out for about seven weeks. He has scored 16 goals in all competition for the Biancocelesti.

Just as prolific in UEFA EURO 2012 qualifying with nine goals in six appearances as Germany became the first country to qualify for the finals.Klose needs just 5 goals to break Gerd Muller’s record and the EUROs will be the best place for him to achieve that feat.This might be his last tournament.It’s now or never for Klose.

 

KING OF LONDON |  Raul Meireles

“My technique and feeling for the ball is the Turkish side to my game. The discipline, attitude and always-give-your-all is the German part.“-Mesut Özil

A workaholic midfield grafter with a potent long-range right-foot shot, Raul Meireles has been a mainstay of Portugal’s midfield for the past five years. He won four domestic titles with FC Porto before exporting his talents to England, where he has shone at Liverpool FC and current employers Chelsea FC with whom he won the UEFA Champions League.

Raul Meireles’ father, Raul Meireles, Sr., was a former massage therapist for Boavista FC, who encouraged him to play football in that team when he was only six.

A native of Porto,Raul José Trindade Meireles (29) started out at CD Aves, finishing seventh in the second division with the club two seasons running; joined Boavista FC in 2003 and enjoyed a productive debut campaign in the top flight, earning a transfer to city rivals Porto.

He made slow progress in his first two seasons at Porto but blossomed under Jesualdo Ferreira, becoming a central cog in midfield and earning regular call-ups for Portugal; scored on his major competition debut against Turkey at EURO 2008.He won his fourth successive title with the Dragons in 2008/09, making 28 appearances and scoring four goals; retained the domestic cup in 2010, his last game for Porto before joining Liverpool for €13m.

He started all 12 games in Portugal’s 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign and scored the winning goal in the play-off second leg versus Bosnia and Herzegovina; on target once in four outings at the finals. Meireles was named in the Portuguese squad for the 2010 World Cup.He started all of Portugal’s matches at the tournament, scoring one goal in Portugal’s second group stage match against North Korea in Cape Town.Portugal reached the Round of 16, where they lost 1–0 against eventual champions Spain.
In 2010 he moved to Liverpool where he won the 2011 PFA Fans’ Player of the Year award following a very successful first season in Premier League.He left Liverpool on transfer deadline day in August 2011 to join the sizeable Portuguese-speaking contingent at Chelsea, including former Porto players José Bosingwa, Paulo Ferreira and then coach André Villas-Boas.

He appeared in 11 of the Blues’ 12 matches en route to the 2012 UEFA Champions League final, for which he was suspended after being booked in the semi-final second leg against FC Barcelona.During his debut season at Stamford Bridge, he won the 2012 UEFA Champions League and the 2011–12 FA Cup, his first titles since his arrival to England.

The Portuguese won a “Group of Death” at Euro 2000 when nobody was expecting them to do so.Maybe history will repeat itself.

This article was written by Nana Abiri (@NOKA88)
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