EURO 2020: Portugal prepares for Belgium while Denmark moves on

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Portugal are defending tournament champions, while Belgium are favorites due to their third place at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.

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For Portugal, the road to a repeat must go through the favorites of the tournament, Belgium at Euro 2020.

The two will meet in the round of 16 on Sunday in Seville, Spain, with the winner facing Italy in the quarter-finals.

Portugal are the defending tournament champions, while Belgium are one of the favorites due to their third place at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.

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“Belgium are a very close team, they showed that in the group stage,” Portuguese midfielder Joao Moutinho said on Saturday. “But we will try to play our game and do our best to diminish their strengths and exploit some of their weaknesses. Our main goal is to achieve victory.

Belgium made it through the group stage, beating Russia, Denmark and Finland. He scored seven goals while conceding one. Portugal, meanwhile, finished third in their group behind France and Germany, securing a victory over Hungry and a draw against the defending World Cup champions.

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“Teams like Belgium and Portugal don’t have a lot of flaws but the coaches are always trying to find something to exploit,” said Portugal manager Fernando Santos. “We want to play on the strengths of our team. We can’t give them too much space and we’ll have to see what training they use and adapt to it.

“It’s a crucial game and it will be like a final for us. I think the team that defends the best, manages possession and creates the best chance of winning the game.

Belgium is full of stars such as Romelu Lukaku, Eden Hazard, Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen and Kevin De Bruyne.

Portugal, meanwhile, have Cristiano Ronaldo, who is the tournament’s all-time top scorer and needs one more goal to take the lead in men’s international goals.

Ronaldo has 109 international goals for Portugal and is currently tied with Iranian Ali Deai for the men’s record. They are both still 77 goals behind Canadian forward Christine Sinclair for the overall record.

“If you see a Portugal shirt on the street, there’s a 99% chance it’s a Ronaldo shirt,” Vertonghen said. “He’s the greatest player in Portuguese history and we have to respect him. I respect him a lot, but tomorrow it’s not Belgium against Ronaldo, it’s Belgium against Portugal and they have a lot of good players, quality players and so do we, so we’ll be ready.

ADVANCES IN DENMARK

The sentimental favorite advanced to the quarter-finals as Denmark beat Wales 4-0 in the round of 16 on Saturday.

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Playing at the Johan Cruijff Arena in Amsterdam, which is practically a second home, Denmark fled Wales after being outplayed for the opening 25 minutes of the game.

Making his first start in the tournament, Kasper Dolberg has scored twice for Denmark, which will face either the Netherlands or the Czech Republic in the quarter-finals.

Joakim Maehle and Martin Braithwaite scored late to make the game look more lopsided than it actually was.

“I just want to say that it sounds almost surreal,” said Danish manager Kasper Hjulmand. “I am grateful for all the Danes who came here. I am grateful for the support we continue to receive, not only now but in other games as well. It’s crazy.”

Two weeks ago, Denmark nearly lost midfielder Christian Eriksen when he collapsed on the pitch and went into cardiac arrest. Medical staff had to use a defibrillator on Eriksen, who is now recovering at his home in Copenhagen.

Eriksen started his professional career in Amsterdam playing at the Johan Cruijff Arena with Ajax. A number of other players from the Danish national team have also made their way through Ajax.

“Johan Cruijff is one of my biggest inspirations and knowing it was Christian’s first home after leaving Denmark, this is where he played his first professional match at 16, it’s special “said Hjulmand. “He’s part of us and I wish he could have been here.

Email: [email protected]

On Twitter: @DerekVanDiest

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