Euro 2004: Portugal's task cut out

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> For many years now, Portugal's football players have been dubbed the Brazilians of Europe.

Updated: February 25, 2007 10:04 IST
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For many years now, Portugal's football players have been dubbed the Brazilians of Europe. However the Portuguese have certainly not had the same kind of success as the five time world champions. Portugal challenge at Euro 2004 will be led for probably the last time by the charismatic Figo - a world class playmaker who still doesn't have any international trophy to his name other than the youth championships in 1989 and '91. Star lineup Figo might be fading but the real buzz in Portugal is over the new generation of superstars, particularly Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo. Named after former American President Ronald Reagan, Ronaldo is the world' most expensive player. If Figo and Ronaldo can provide the crosses, then goals will be dime a dozen for Pedro Pauleta - the Portugese striker who has been twice adjudged the French Footballer of the Year. This season his club Paris St Germain won the French Cup. Another player who could hold the key to Portugal's success is Brazilian born Deco, the inspiration behind's Porto's win in the UEFA Champions League. Fifth time lucky? Euro 2004 will be Portugal's fifth appearance at a European Championship. Pooled in Group A along with Greece, Spain and Russia, Portugal's best performance in a championship has been semi-final in 1984 and 2000. Ironically both times they have lost to France, who turned out to be eventual winners. Their best at the World Cup has been a third position in 1966 on their debut. Having been knocked out in the Group stages of the 2002 World Cup, Portugal hired the coach who won that tournament - Brazil's Luis Felipe Scolari. They will be hoping that the man with the Midas touch can do the trick for them.

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