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    Euro 2012 preview: Portugal banking on Ronaldo

    Portugal are known for their free-flowing and attacking football but they are highly dependent on Ronaldo and Nani.

    Portugal are unfortunate enough to find themselves in the Euro 2012 'Group of Death' and the odds are stacked up against the 2004 runners-up as they will have to face Germany and Netherlands who are seen as the clear favourites to go through to the next round. Portugal are known for their free-flowing and attacking football, but they are highly dependent on Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani. The two wingers have it in them to help their team win even against the best of opponents, but Euro 2012 is a different ball game.

    Portugal coach Paulo Bento's side should be able to deal with their other Group B opponents Denmark comfortably, which means they must play above themselves to be able to advance. Portugal struggled to get their qualifying campaign off the ground, picking up just one point from their first two matches. But following Carlos Queiroz's departure, they won five of the last six matches to finish second behind fellow Group B side Denmark.

    Portugal will rely on their skipper Ronaldo, who comes into the Euro after a stunning performance for Real Madrid this season. Ronaldo managed 60 goals in all competitions, including 46 in La Liga. Nani on the other hand, will be another key member for Portugal and the duo in the wings can be really dangerous while counter-attacking. Striker Helder Postiga will surely be played as a single striker upfront and has to be lethal with his finishing if Portugal have any chance to advance to the next round.

    In defence, Ricardo Carvalho has not been called for the Euro following his public spat with the coach in 2011, so Pepe and Bruno Alves should form the centre-back. If they can bring their club form into the tournament, then the opponents' strikers could find it difficult to get through their backline, keeping in mind the likes of Fabio Coentrao and Rolando will occupy the full-back positions.

    The heart of the midfield is the biggest worry for Portugal, as Raul Meireles, Joao Moutinho and Miguel Veloso have not been that consistent and have struggled when they have played for the country. Portugal are yet to taste glory in any of the big tournaments, with a second-placed finish on home soil at the European Championships in 2004 their best performance. They will surely once again hope that Ronaldo's magic mesmerises the Euro.

    Portugal squad:

    Goalkeepers: Rui Patricio (Sporting Lisbon), Eduardo (Benfica), Beto (CFR-Cluj).

    Defenders: Bruno Alves (Zenit Saint-Petersburg), Fabio Coentrao (Real Madrid), Joao Pereira (Sporting Lisbon), Pepe (Real Madrid), Ricardo Costa (Valencia), Rolando (FC Porto), Miguel Lopes (Sporting Braga).

    Midfielders: Hugo Viana (Braga), Joao Moutinho (FC Porto), Custodio (Sporting Braga), Miguel Veloso (Genoa), Raul Meireles (Chelsea), Ruben Micael (Real Zaragoza).

    Forwards: Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid), Hugo Almeida (Besiktas), Helder Postiga (Real Zaragoza), Nani (Manchester United), Nelson Oliveira (Benfica), Ricardo Quaresma (Besiktas), Silvestre Varela (FC Porto).

    Recent Euro performances:

    2008 - Eliminated in quarter-final

    2004 - Runners-up

    2000 - Eliminated in semi-final

    1996 - Eliminated in quarter-final

    Keep an eye on: Cristiano Ronaldo, Nani, Joao Moutinho

    Prediction: Clubbed in the 'Group of Death, only a miracle or Ronaldo's magic can take Portugal through to the quarters. The odds are well against them.

    Fixtures:

    June 9, 2012: Germany vs Portugal - Arena Lviv, Lviv

    June 13, 2012: Denmark vs Portugal - Arena Lviv, Lviv

    June 17, 2012: Portugal vs Netherlands - Metalist Stadium, Kharkiv