Portugal vs Czechia – Football Match Preview – June 19, 2024

By Toby Davis

LEIPZIG, GermanyJune 17 (Reuters) – Leading a team brimming with talent and with a flawless qualifying campaign under his belt, it is perhaps no surprise that Portugal Boss Roberto Martinez made sure to pack enough jerseys to last him until the Euro 2024 final.

Portugal begin their tournament with a Group F clash against the Czech Republic in Leipzig on Tuesday and few are predicting an upset for a team managed by Cristiano Ronaldo.

Portugal were the only team to win all of their qualifying matches and scored more goals than any other team (36) while boasting the best defensive record after conceding twice.

It would be a huge surprise if the Czechs, who have won four of their eight qualifying matches, including two against the Faroe Islands, manage to achieve a shock result.

With Türkiye And Georgia making up the group, the Portuguese are expected to qualify for the knockout stages, but Martinez has his eyes on a bigger prize.

“We have to believe in it, we have to dream big,” he told reporters on Monday.

“If we don't dream big, it will be difficult. But we also owe it to everyone to play well. Tomorrow will be the right time to show that we are ready, that we can meet all expectations… I have brought seven jerseys, not three. But now we have to put everything on the pitch for these first three matches.

Ronaldo, 39, remains their talisman and, with 10 qualifying goals, he continues to defy predictions that his career would end when he chose to leave Europe's elite and ply his trade. Saudi Arabia.

Any suggestion that Ronaldo's exploits in the Middle East were of questionable value and that his place in the Portugal team was due to his reputation rather than his talent was quickly dismissed by his manager.

“Cristiano is part of the national team because of his merits. Nobody gets into the national team just by having a name. Cristiano scored 51 goals in 50 matches (for Al-Nassr last season),” said Martinez.

“For us, he's a goalscorer, someone who can make that last move, someone who can really stretch defenders, really open up spaces. Obviously, over the years, Cristiano has changed the way he plays slightly , but I can only say that Cristiano is in the national team on merit and the numbers are there to confirm it.”

Central defender of Portugal Rubén Diashowever, had a more emotional view of Ronaldo's impact on the team.

“I would say it represents inspiration, it represents that anything is possible, it represents that you can dream and you can achieve it,” he said.

“It's obviously a pleasure to have him with us at this point in his career. He represents to us that he really wants to win again and he is our captain and obviously we follow him until the end.”

(Reporting by Toby Davis, editing by Ed Osmond)

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