Portugal feathers not ruffled by ugly duckling talk

STILL IN THE RUNNING: Portugal players celebrating after overcoming Poland in the quarter-final. Coach Santos says it is not possible to compare Ronaldo's form in the Euros with his Real achievements.


    Jul 04, 2016

    Portugal feathers not ruffled by ugly duckling talk


    PORTUGAL coach Fernando Santos is not worried if people think his side are the "ugly duckling" among the teams left in Euro 2016.

    Underdogs Iceland and Wales have captured the imagination of the public while Antonio Conte's Italy have been acclaimed for their sparkling wins over Spain and Belgium.

    Portugal, on the other hand, have reached the semi-finals of the competition for the fourth time in the last five attempts without winning a game inside 90 minutes and without ever playing especially well.

    Their second-round match against Croatia, which they won in the dying minutes of extra time, was criticised as one of the worst of the tournament.

    Santos, however, does not care what others think.

    "Of course, Wales and Iceland are the teams everyone likes because nobody expected them to get this far," he said.

    "I'm not worried about being the ugly duckling or someone who feels sorry for himself.

    "I'm interested about getting to the final and winning it," added Santos whose side face Wales in Lyon on Wednesday in their semi-final.

    "It doesn't bother me or the players at all. Would I like us to be pretty? Yes.

    "But, in between being pretty and being at home, or being ugly and being here, I prefer to be ugly."

    Santos has insisted throughout that he will be returning home to Portugal only on July 11, the day after the final.

    "I would be unhappy if it were the other way round and I was at home and people were saying we should still be in the tournament," he said.

    He lavished more praise on forward Cristiano Ronaldo who has been unable to find the same prolific scoring form he shows at Real Madrid.

    The striker has scored two goals, in a 3-3 draw against Hungary.

    "Of course, you can't compare and you shouldn't compare the Cristiano Ronaldo who plays for Real Madrid with the Ronaldo in the national team, although we have a fantastic Ronaldo here," he said.

    "He is an example, as captain, of the spirit of this team, of this team's determination.

    "He wants to do well and he wants to win, and in this aspect, he has been fantastic."