mystery at the heart of Portugal's
empty trophy cabinet: why does a country that produces some of Europe's best club talent have so much trouble scoring in
It's a riddle
that is once again haunting the Portuguese as they gear up for their second
European Championship Group B game against Denmark on Wednesday. The match
follows a defeat in their opener against Germany — when they played well but
failed to find the net and lost 1-0.
Portugal possesses one of the world's leading goalscorers at club level in
Cristiano Ronaldo and a highly talented winger in Nani. But in a four-game
winless streak this year it has netted just one goal.
way football is," Nani said Monday. "It's hard to score in this type
Portugal's lack of edge in attack has repeatedly denied it the international
honors that could make it the great team it has so long promised to be. Not
even the "Golden Generation," which featured Luis Figo and Rui Costa,
could remedy the problem of no silverware.
The team twice
struck the goal frame against Germany,
but a good performance wasn't enough.
are in trouble in a tough group, with the Netherlands
lying in wait beyond Denmark,
and another blank scoresheet in Lviv,
send them home.
The players are
stumped by the goal drought and believe their luck has temporarily deserted
just doesn't want to go in at the moment," midfielder Miguel Veloso said.
"We have to keep pushing until it does."
Bento has identified the problem: Sunday's training was largely dedicated to
There could be
something more fundamental about the difficulties, though, as there appear to
be some missing links in the squad. It has no playmaker who might come up with
unexpected flourishes that wrongfoot defenses and create sudden openings.
Though Ronaldo and Nani are good, opposition defenders are primed for them.
world-class center forward is also absent. That could force Bento to realign
the attack, even though his resources are limited. He could spring a surprise
against the Danes by handing 20-year-old Nelson Oliveira his first start.
even started in the Portuguese league for his club Benfica, but throwing him
into the mix could inspire some new moves.
Portugal is no stranger to goalscoring troubles.
In the group
stage of the 2010 World Cup, Portugal
recorded 0-0 draws against Ivory Coast
but still advanced.
At Euro 2004, it
also lost its opening match, but ended up in the final — where it once again
failed to score and went down 1-0 to Greece. (nvn)