Portuguese athletes that make us proud, part #2

One of the things this time in isolation brought were a whole lot of memories. At home, each of one of us has had the time to think back to good moments lived, to revisit photo albums, to recall trips and tours, re-watch some movies, and, of course, to remember some plays, matches and big sports moments that stuck with us. The same happened to us. Sports TV channels have been broadcasting some of the best and most striking moments in world sports, so we decided to revisit the 2016 Euro Championship and the Portuguese path to victory.

 

A bumpy and atypical route

Previously, Portugal had reached the semi-finals in the Euro 2012, but disappointed in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Portugal came to Euro 2016 with a strong team, with a lot of new faces. Nevertheless, the group had lost Bernardo Silva to a serious injury, therefore the little football magician was out of commission. So the team status was somewhere in between underdog and candidate to the final win. Portugal's route to France was already a bumpy and atypical one - and the competition was about to confirm that.

Portugal assumed favouritism amid an apparently friendly group stage with Iceland, Austria and Hungary, but that sentiment quickly faded away given that all three matches ended with ties: 1-1, 0-0 and 3-3. The team performance was a disappointment. The strikers had a difficult time scoring and even an uninspired Cristiano Ronaldo took his time: after missing a penalty kick along the way, he only scored in the third match. The Portuguese team would pass on to the next phase as one of the best third places. Its candidacy for the victory in the competition was utterly mitigated.

In the knock-out phase though, that picture changed. Croatia, Poland and Wales were defeated by a more compact, coordinated and supportive team. In the words of coach Fernando Santos, "it's very tough to beat this team".

 

The movie-worth final battle in Paris 

Finally, the day of the remarkably desired final match came about. Location: Stade de France, Paris. The opposition: the home team, France. 

Clashes between Lusitanos and Gauls are typically tricky to the former. France had, of course, the massive benefit - and responsibility - to play in their home turf before their fellow Frenchmen. But millions of Portuguese live in and around the French capital; many more, despite not having a ticket to watch the game at the stadium, travelled to the City of Lights to be part of - they all hoped - the celebration! The battle began at the bleachers, with fans cheering for each team.

This would be a match to remember! Nobody will ever forget Cristiano Ronaldo's injury at about 25 minutes into the game, forcing him to leave the most crucial event of his international career in tears. We all remember the thousands of moths that roamed the stadium at about the same time, like a biblical omen of sorts. Rui Patrício's saves that led the team to extra time are unforgettable. Raphael Guerreiro's ball to the bar during extra time is still engraved in our memory. And of course, nobody will ever forget Éder's goal at minute 109! An entire nation rose on all continents and the sixth most spoken language in the world sang with one voice: GOAL! The cup lost in 2004 against the Greeks in Lisbon, the semi-final lost to France in 2000: all of that came to memory. This was more than a win: this was the consecration of a dream with an exceptional flavour.

 

Hard work, planning and... results!

The Portuguese dream started many months before, with years of hard work and planning resulting in what would become the most significant European Championship in the Portuguese team history.

Such a great achievement at such a high competitive level requires a lot of logistical preparation, infrastructure plans and strategy. Everything is thought out in advance. Almost as if the European Championship starts years earlier!

The preparation for this particular competition was pretty different when compared to previous cups. The Portuguese Football Federation built what came to be known as the "City of Football": a logistical centre for the hosting and training of all teams from all age levels representing Portugal. New infrastructures for team and individual training, physical preparation and even theoretical work allowed building a better team enriched with a better strategy, one that immediately produced results!

This is the "invisible" job at which Move Sports specialises: the preparation and organising of training camps and tours for sports teamsThe Portuguese football team is not a unique case: when you take a bet on improving your conditions, you end up obtaining the desired results.

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