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Poland vs Portugal - Fernando Santos predicts close battle against Poland

Thursday, June 30, 2016 Source: PA

Portugal boss Fernando Santos feels Thursday's Euro 2016 quarter-final against Poland is a "50-50" contest - but is confident it will be his side who emerge from it victorious.

Opposite number Adam Nawalka has said the Poles are "full of faith and optimism" as well as hunger ahead of the game in Marseille as they look to extend what is the nation's best-ever run at a European Championship.

Speaking at a subsequent pre-match press conference on Wednesday, Santos was keen to emphasise he regards Nawalka's men as a major threat and that neither team should be viewed as favourites.

But at the same time, he made it clear he sees Portugal getting through in the end.

"Poland have been growing and they are a very strong team," Santos said.

"Tomorrow will be a game between two very strong teams with very good players, both with the same goal - to move on, to be in the semi-finals. And my counterpart believes Poland will go through. But I believe we will go through.

"I think there are no favourites in this match. We are facing great opponents with great quality and I think this is a strictly 50-50 game.

"But I believe we are going to win."

It has been a mixed Euro 2016 so far for Portugal captain and three-time Ballon d'Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo, with him missing a penalty in a 1-1 draw against Iceland before registering his only goals to date with a brace in a 3-3 draw with Hungary.

The Real Madrid forward could well prove the difference for his country on Thursday - although Santos appeared to make a specific point of also mentioning Poland's star man Robert Lewandowski, who is yet to score at this tournament, on Wednesday as he spoke about the focus that is on "amazing" players like Ronaldo.

"Everyone is talking about him (Ronaldo) and there is a reason for that - because he is an amazing player," Santos said.

"It is normal to talk about a player as good as Cristiano, or Lewandowski, or (Germany goalkeeper Manuel) Neuer. They are amazing players so it is a natural thing.

"Some are mentioned more often than others. But Ronaldo knows how to deal with that."

Nawalka described Ronaldo as "one of the best players in the world", but also emphasised the Poles are not coming up against a one-man team.

Asked if the key to success for Poland would be cancelling out Ronaldo, Nawalka said: "Football is about teamwork.

"There is no team where just one player decides on the outcome of the match.

"I think Portugal present themselves very well as a whole team, and their players all want to achieve success tomorrow.

"For us, we need to look not only at Cristiano Ronaldo but all the players. They represent a very high level and we need to play at a high level ourselves."

Poland have made history with their run at this competition, having failed to even win a match in their two previous European Championship campaigns.

"The fact we have achieved these results at the tournament is not really a surprise for us," Nawalka added.

"We have been expecting this from the very beginning - that by playing with a high level of football we would do well.

"My players have achieved a lot already but they want more and more.

"I am very pleased with their mental approach to this tournament, which is a very important factor. We are full of faith and optimism in approaching this match."

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