Hugo Almeida will start in
attack for Portugal in Wednesday's Euro 2012 semi-final clash
with Spain in place of the injured Helder Postiga as coach Paulo
Bento is forced into his first change of the tournament.
Portugal have used the same starting line-up in all four of
their games so far but Postiga has been ruled out for the rest
of the tournament after suffering a hamstring injury in the
quarter-final win over the Czech Republic.
Almeida, who plays for Besiktas and featured as a substitute
when Postiga was taken off, said he was ready for the challenge.
"Yes I am very pleased with that [call-up] I have worked a
lot for that and I will take this opportunity," he told a news
conference on Tuesday.
"While I was out of the side, I stayed motivated, like all
the 23 players in the squad," he said.
"All of us want to play all the time. Of course, I was a
little sad not to be in starting line-up but I did all I could to
help my team - you have to work hard and be prepared to take
your chance," he said.
Spain's defence has been watertight throughout the finals,
conceding just a solitary goal in the opening game against Italy
and Almeida, who has 15 goals in 43 games for his country, has
no doubt about the difficulty of the task facing his team.
"We have to score, that's the first aim, we know they have
great quality, stunning players, and we will have to continue
our work and try everything to score," he said.
With Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani on the wings and Almeida
playing through the middle, Portugal's approach is unlikely to
change from the counter-attacking style they have deployed so
far, despite the unique challenges the Spaniards pose.
"They have an identity based around the ball possession they
have," said Bento. "They always play in last third and are very
strong when they lose the ball, that's why they are a team of
great quality, why they are European and world champions.
"We will have a lot of difficulties but the important thing
is that we have to be loyal to our identity too," he said.
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