Portugal expect Nani to deliver against Denmark

Posted on by SoccerPunter

Real Madrid superstar Cristiano Ronaldo understandably cannot win matches for Portugal on his own.

But fans of the Seleccao will hope that after their opening Euro 2012 Group B loss to Germany he and his former Manchester United team-mate Nani can between them pull the side back on track against Denmark on Wednesday.

Wednesday’s match in Lviv sees the Portuguese condemned to chase the win whereas the Danes can take heart from the fact they already have three points in the bag – garnered at the expense of Holland, who would normally be expected to advance with the Germans.

Having missed the last world Cup through injury Nani – full name Luis Carlos Almeida da Cunha – hopes he and Ronaldo can now combine to sow mayhem down the flanks and move on from their German reverse.

Nani hit the woodwork against the Germans in a late rally which ultimately proved fruitless.

He started the match a little apprehensive after injuring a foot in the final warm-up loss to Turkey but then found his touch as one of his country’s more effective performers – though the team remain short on true firepower.

Nani insists that “we are not super-powerful machines who can go out and beat everyone.”

But the Portuguese have made a recent habit of not beating anyone – at least not their four matches to date this year which brought just a solitary goal – from Nani himself – in the Turkish loss.

Asked if he should not take on a more central role – which Ronaldo himself could likewise envisage – in place of the disappointing Helder Postiga, he told reporters: “I have already done so before and I feel comfortable in that position, where I have a lot of freedom and have the opportunity to create chances.

“But it is up to the coach to decide.”

Nani has crossed swords with the Danes before. The winger scored on his debut against them in 2006, and also managed a brace in an October 2010 qualifier against the same rivals.

But the Danes won the return in Copenhagen – their third win in the last five meetings between the two sides – to secure top spot and push the Portuguese into the playoffs, where they beat Bosnia.

He now has 12 goals for his country.

Nani has continued to progress since Sporting Lisbon put him in the first team at 18 before Manchester United shelled out 25 million euros for the then 20-year-old’s services in 2007.

Ronaldo himself recommended him highly to United boss Sir Alex Ferguson.

Both men have a penchant for dribbling and hail from Portuguese-speaking islands – Ronaldo from Madeira, Cap Verde for Nani.

But both will have to come up with the goods against the Danes or else the tide will go out on their Euro 2012 hopes.

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