Portugal coach Fernando Santos said on Saturday he was “firmly convinced” the reigning champions have what it takes to beat Belgium, the world’s top-ranked side, in their last-16 showdown at Euro 2020.
The two countries meet in a heavyweight clash in Seville on Sunday, with Belgium benefiting from an extra 48 hours’ rest after easily winning Group B while Portugal advanced as one of the four best third-placed sides.
“I look at the team as whole and try to find the opposition’s flaws. Teams like Belgium and Portugal don’t have many,” Santos told a virtual press conference.
“We know our opponent is capable and very competent but I’m firmly convinced we’re going to be better than they are.”
Portugal came third in a section featuring world champions France and Germany, and in Cristiano Ronaldo they have the tournament’s top scorer after he netted five times in Group F.
“We had a very, very strong group, so we know we can score and create chances. We just need to keep doing it,” said Santos, who led Portugal to the title at Euro 2016.
“When you find a team that’s as strong defensively as up front then they (Belgium) have very a strong chance of winning, but we want to be as strong as we can be.”
Midfielder Joao Moutinho underlined the threat of Kevin De Bruyne, with the Manchester City star making his first start in Belgium’s 2-0 win over Finland following his recovery from a facial injury suffered in the Champions League final.
“Belgium are not just De Bruyne, but of course he’s an amazing player. If we give him enough space and time to think and to play, he’s even more dangerous,” said Moutinho, who plays for Wolves in the Premier League.
“Belgium have a very strong team. If we give them too much time and space they’ll play their game and it’ll make our job even harder.”