Portugal coach Paulo Bento has urged his players to be patient in their UEFA EURO 2012 semi-final with Spain on Wednesday, but says his side will not allow themselves to be dominated.
Defending champions Spain have largely had their own way at the tournament, averaging 67.5 per cent of possession in their games to date, and they encountered little resistance in the 2-0 quarter-final win over France.
Under Bento, Portugal have developed an effective counter-attacking style, but the 43-year-old coach says his players will not be content to sit and defend when they tackle Spain in Donetsk. "Of course there are going to be moments in the game when we can link up and go forward," he said in Tuesday's pre-game press conference. "We want possession of the ball, but we are playing against a team that has played better than all the other teams.
"It's going to be about patience. We know what we have to do. We have to put pressure on our opponents in the right areas of the pitch," he added. "Our aim is not to defend all the time. You can't do that against the world and European champions. We are aware that it's going to be difficult but they also know that we can cause them problems.
We believe that we can win against Spain.
"It was very easy to get motivated because we're in the semi-finals. There can't be a more beautiful opportunity than the one we have tomorrow," Bento said. "We could reach the second final in our history [after losing to Greece at EURO 2004] and that's what we're conscious of and that's why we've worked so hard to get here.
"We won't have any anxiety. We're aware of our responsibilities to the Portuguese people and we hope to prolong our participation in the tournament," he went on. "We'll need to show great balance for 90 minutes. When we have chances to counter-attack, we'll have to take them. But we'll have to wait for our chances. There will be moments when they're on top, and moments when we're on top.
"We need to play in the areas of the pitch where we're least vulnerable. But I'm very confident because we've played with a lot of heart and courage."
Portugal prevailed 4-0 when the sides last met, in a friendly match in Lisbon that took place in November 2010 - four months after Spain won the FIFA World Cup™, and two months after Bento took over as coach from Carlos Queiroz.
It was Spain's heaviest defeat since 1963, but Bento believes it will count for nothing when the teams resume hostilities at Donbass Arena. "A lot of players that played against them two years ago are in this squad, but it will be a totally different game," he said.
"The history is different and the two teams on the pitch will be different. We know it'll be very, very difficult to repeat this result, but we believe that we can win against Spain."