Fernando Santos is well aware of the threats possessed by Germany but insists Portugal will not go into Saturday’s clash just looking to negate their opponents’ strengths.
Portugal began their Euro 2020 defence with a 3-0 win over Hungary on Tuesday though it arguably was not as clear-cut as the scoreline suggested, with all three goals coming in the final 10 minutes – a European Championship first.
Nevertheless, it was a vital late flurry given matches against Germany and France await in Group F, their meeting with Die Mannschaft on Saturday practically a must-win for Joachim Low’s men after their 1-0 defeat to Les Bleus.
France’s set-up against the Germans seemed to raise eyebrows due to the level of their pragmatism – their average starting position of 32.8 metres from their own goal is the second-lowest at the tournament so far, highlighting how Didier Deschamps’ men looked to absorb pressure.
Similarly, France showed very little willingness to press, particularly in advanced areas. On average they allowed Germany 55 passes before initiating a defensive action outside of their own defensive third, 22.7 more than any other team, which shows just how extreme Les Blues’ counterattacking approach was.
France restricted Germany to just one shot on target, though it seems Portugal will not be looking to implement similar tactics.
“Portugal and Germany are two very strong teams,” Santos told reporters on Friday. “Just count the number of German players who were in the Champions League final.
“Germany really wants to have the ball, to be a steamroller and push the opponent back. Afterwards, they attack with depth, but from closer [to goal] rather than in counterattacks.
“But they will also have to adapt to us. We are different from France. Let’s see what Germany does and we’ll try to control Germany too. One thing’s for certain, we have to have a ball.
“We are not going to defend man to man. We’re going to maintain our defensive pattern to be able to have the ball, as we did against Hungary, whom we forced to run.
“I don’t know what Joachim [Low] is going to do. Germany has been oscillating between the two ways of playing [back three and back four].
“He has lined up with four in defence, where one of them was [Emre] Can and three in midfield, and more recently he has gone back to three at the back, with two in midfield and three forwards.
“If we pay attention, the game against France already showed nuances, with [Joshua] Kimmich more in midfield and [Matthias] Ginter on the right in the second half. Our players know this, they have already been warned about it.”
Ruben Dias says Portugal are not getting carried away after making a winning start.
“We’re up against a high-level team, one of the best at the European Championship,” he said. “Although we started the Euros very well, we need to keep our feet on the ground, take what there is to take out, but also understand that we have to be better [than against Hungary] to win this game.”