Euro 2024: Portugal ready for knockout stages after big win

Portugal manager Roberto Martinez said he will remain flexible and keep his rivals guessing

By Reuters

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Portugal's Bruno Fernandes scores their third goal past Turkey's Altay Bayindir. — Reuters
Portugal's Bruno Fernandes scores their third goal past Turkey's Altay Bayindir. — Reuters

Published: Sun 23 Jun 2024, 12:27 AM

Last updated: Sun 23 Jun 2024, 6:16 PM

Portugal manager Roberto Martinez was pleased by how dominant his side were in their 3-0 win over Turkey on Saturday and said that he is confident they are ready for the Euro 2024 round of 16 after securing qualification as Group F winners.

Bernardo Silva's fine finish in the 21st minute, a comical Samet Akaydin own goal shortly afterwards and Bruno Fernandes's second-half tap-in gave Portugal a straightforward win in front of swathes of passionate Turkish fans in Dortmund.

Despite facing criticism following a last gasp fight back win against Czech Republic, Martinez said he didn't think his team had had a bad performance in their opener, considering it was a similar display to the latest game with the result being determined by the circumstances.

Portugal had to dig deep to beat the Czechs 2-1 with a stoppage-time winner, which raised questions about Martinez's side who arrived in Germany among the favourites.

"I think our game was on the same level as the first one what is very important for us, to maintain a good level. The difference is that we managed to score early and that allowed us to play more calm and relaxed," Martinez told a press conference.

"After we scored the first goal it changed what Turkey needed to do, it is important to start well. We were focused on defence and controlled the game better, it was so meaningful to keep them from scoring."

After abandoning the system used in the opener of deploying three central defenders and reverting to a back four, Martinez said that he will remain flexible and keep his rivals guessing.

"It's important to balance our abundance of individual talent and the best way to do it is being tactically flexible," Martinez said.

"To have that flexibility in a national team is difficult so I think it's great that we have players talented enough to play different roles according to the situation and the rival."

As the victory secured Portugal's progress to the knockout rounds, Martinez said that he will rotate his squad in their last group stage game on Wednesday against Georgia.

"Securing first place is good because there are a lot of players in the dressing room who deserve to play and we need to give them opportunities to show what they've got and create a competitive environment in the team during the tournament," Martinez said.

"I was very happy with the attitude and them showing that we're growing game by game. It's good to see progress and a good level of play in two consecutive matches and I feel that we are ready for the knockouts."

While Saturday's display against Turkey went almost without a hitch, Portugal did not match the scintillating football displayed by their Iberian neighbours Spain who beat Croatia and Italy in their opening two matches in Germany.

One issue which dogs the Portugal team is whether Cristiano Ronaldo, 39, should remain an automatic choice up front.

On Saturday, Ronaldo went some way to quieting that debate when he generously rolled the ball to Bruno Fernandes to make it 3-0 when he could have scored himself, taking his number of assists in Euro tournaments to a record eight.


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