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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Favored Portuguese Wary of Turkey




AMSTERDAM, Netherlands -- It's crunch time for Portugal's golden boys.


Saturday's match with Turkey gives Luis Figo, Rui Costa and the rest of the "golden generation" the chance to put behind them a decade of disappointment and show their dazzling first-round display is no flash in the pan.


Defeat would be a national trauma after the euphoria that's surrounded the victories over England, Romania and Germany.


The fusion of individual finesse and teamwork displayed in Portugal's first-round romp has made the men in red and green the hot tip against a Turkish team defeated by Italy and held to a draw by Sweden, before securing qualification on a win over co-host Belgium.


But the Portuguese are wary of the favorites tag.


"We've shown we have a generation of great players, but we know Turkey very well and we will be facing a top class opponent," assistant coach Rui Cacador said Thursday. "There are no favorites in the quarterfinals, any team can win."


Hakan Sukur and his teammates are fired-up on a wave of patriotic fervor and are determined to show that Turkish soccer is a force to be reckoned with.


Turkey's tactics f shutting down the midfield, packing the defense, and hitting back fast on the counter f are similar to Romania's, who came closest to thwarting Portugal in the first round.


"The Turks defend very well, and defend from midfield, its going to be a more closed game," said Rui Jorge.


The Portuguese are aware that Mustafa Denizli's team will try to disrupt the rhythm of their concise midfield build-up by man-for-man shadowing of the most creative players in an effort to frustrate them into making a fatal error.


However, the Portuguese have watched closely how Italy exploited deficiencies in the Turk's skill levels and physical fitness to gain the upper hand.


Before he even gets to the Turks, Portuguese coach Humberto Coelho has a major challenge to overcome f who to pick for the game.


Sergio Conceicao seems certain to win a place after his three-goal rampage against the Germans. The Lazio winger could be used on the right wing, alongside Rui Costa in the center of midfield and Figo on the left.


The Turks will by hoping Sukur will have recovered from the twisted ankle that kept him out of training Wednesday, the Inter Milan-bound striker is the team's standout, especially since his two goals in the defeat of Belgium.