Jun 14, 2016

    Portugal don't want hopes to be put on ice


    CRISTIANO Ronaldo-led Portugal open their Euro 2016 campaign today eager to avoid slipping up against minnows Iceland and aiming to emulate their run to the European Championship semi-finals four years ago.

    Portugal lost to eventual winners Spain on penalties in the semi-finals of Euro 2012 and have arrived in France determined to win Group F and book their place in the knock-out stages.

    First, they must negotiate their way past surprise-packages Iceland, who beat the Netherlands home and away in qualifying as the Dutch failed to reach Euro 2016.

    The tiny North Atlantic island nation of 330,000 people are making their debut at a major tournament and are the smallest country by population ever to feature at a European Championship.

    Former Chelsea and Barcelona forward Eidur Gudjohnsen, 37, has come out of retirement to be part of the Icelandic squad.

    Now plying his trade in Norway with Molde, the veteran said it will be a "dream come true" when Iceland face Portugal, who trounced Estonia 7-0 in a warm-up game last Wednesday.

    Ronaldo netted twice before coming off at half-time and Iceland's co-manager Lars Lagerback said his side must ensure a quiet night for Real Madrid's superstar forward.

    "I saw him play for 45 minutes against Estonia.

    "I'm not sure he was really on holiday before but he recharged his batteries, both physically and mentally," said Lagerback.

    "You can expect the best from him - but not against us." AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE