Posted on Jun 24
Portugal will not go into Wednesday's Euro 2012 semi-final with an inferiority complex against defending champions Spain, impressive Portuguese fullback Joao Pereira said on Sunday.
The 28-year-old - whose slide rule pass set up Cristiano Ronaldo for the Portugal skipper's first goal in the 2-1 win over Holland last Sunday - added that Spain to him would not be favourites as both sides possessed players who could turn matches.
"Each side has a 50% chance (of qualifying for the final," said the former Sporting Lisbon defender, who signed for Spanish side Primera Liga outfit Valencia in May for a reported 3.5million euros.
"We must have a healthy respect for Spain, but we are not going to respect them too much, because we too have great players, of great value to us."
Pereira, who was first capped in 2010 when Paulo Bento replaced Carlos Queiroz at the helm, said that he hoped the Portuguese would build on the momentum that has seen them rebound from an opening 1-0 defeat by Germany with three successive victories.
"Even if we started badly, we have improved a lot," said Pereira, who was rejoined at training by fellow defenders Pepe and Fabio Coentrao who had sat out Saturday's session.
"I hope we will be even more confident against Spain. It will be important not to commit errors, because they will pounce on those.
"The best thing would be to succeed in pressing them and us retaining possession," he said.
"Obviously that could prove to be a bit difficult because Spain love playing the passing game, and if they play with six midfielders like they have done, it will be tough to score."
Pereira, though, dismissed out of hand using the 4-0 hammering of Spain in a friendly at the end of 2010 as a reference point.
"These are completely different matches.
"It was a friendly, there was nothing at stake and the Spanish players were relaxed.
"A better example is the second round match at the last World Cup where Portugal could have beaten Spain, as the result wasn't that one sided (Spain won 1-0)."
Pereira said that while he and his team-mates were desperate to land the country's first ever championship trophy they would not allow that to distract them from the task ahead with Spain.
"It is for certain that when one reaches a semi-final you think of the final as it is within reach," said Pereira.
"But we know the semi-final will not be an easy game. It is imperative not to think of the final while playing the semi-final.
"Normally that means things don't go well."