Sunday, June 22, 2014

Bento: Beat USA or we 'pack our bags'

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Portugal coach Paulo Bento said on Saturday that his team can start packing their bags if they don't beat USA on Sunday in Manaus. Portugal were beaten 4-0 by Germany in their Group G opener and anything other than a win on Sunday would take qualification for the Round of 16 out of their hands.

Added to that, their preparation for Sunday's clash has been far from ideal as injuries and a suspension have shorn Bento of four players, with  Bruno Alves a doubt as well. Bento isn't allowing excuses to get in the way of his team's preparation.

"Let's stop talking about the absentees and think about playing," he said. "The situation is very simple: either we win or we start to pack our bags. If it's a draw, it's the same. That's not a scenario the Portuguese are used to.

"When you need to react, I think we're good. I truly believe and the players have to convince themselves too. The merit is all theirs. I only have a little. Now they have to fight to improve their credit. We need a team that is confident in itself and able to control the different aspects of the match."

As ever, a lot of focus has been on Cristiano Ronaldo in Brazil, but Bento says the Real Madrid star is dealing with the pressure of the FIFA World Cup™.

"When I took the job I said I'd never put the responsibility for solving problems on his (Ronaldo's) shoulders or those of any other player," he said. "That's my issue. He's an important player for the team but I don't think he's got any more pressure than before. He's treated normally. We have one of the best players in the world but there are others to support him. If we had only the best players in the world, we wouldn't go very far."

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