|Portugal aims to continue resurgence against Norway|
| [03.06.2011, 12:04pm, Fri. GMT]|
|With Cristiano Ronaldo back in goalscoring form, Portugal is fired up for a European Championship qualifier against Norway on Saturday that could put it joint top of Group H. The Portuguese are fighting back from a poor start to their Euro 2012 qualifying campaign when they took just one point from their first two matches. Under coach Paulo Bento, who replaced Carlos Queiroz last September, Portugal has a 4—1—1 record that includes a 4—0 triumph over World Cup champion Spain in a friendly.Crucially, Ronaldo has regained his goal touch. He has scored three times in four appearances under Bento after finding the net just twice, once from the penalty spot, in 18 matches with Queiroz.|
“I’m feeling good and confident,” said Ronaldo, who scored 53 goals in 54 games for Real Madrid last season.
He has 26 goals in 80 international appearances since his 2003 debut.
Halfway through qualifying, and with 4 games left to play, Norway is top of the group with 10 points. Portugal and Denmark, which meets Iceland, are level on seven points.
The Portuguese know Norway will be no pushover at Benfica’s Stadium of Light. The Norwegians beat them 1—0 in Oslo behind a goal from Erik Huseklepp, days after Cyprus snared a 4—4 draw in Portugal.
Huseklepp skipped training due to a sore throat but is expected to play. But Portugal will be without central defender Ricardo Carvalho with a back injury.
“I know Norway, they’ve got a good team,” said Ronaldo, who missed Portugal’s last two friendlies through injury.
“We’re expecting them to get all their players behind the ball and make it hard for us to get through their defense. It’ll take a lot of patience for us to break them down,” he said.
Goalkeeper Eduardo puts Portugal’s return to form down to the change of coach. Queiroz’s final months in charge were stormy as the team failed to produce the kind of play expected from a team ranked in the world’s top 10 by FIFA, and a spat over a doping test led to his suspension by the Portuguese federation.
“We’re in a new era,” Eduardo said. “With Paulo Bento, things have returned to normal. He settled us back down and put us back on track.”
Norway coach Egil Olsen, describing Portugal as “the world’s best national team” at the moment, reckons victory in Lisbon will put his team firmly on the path to the finals in Poland and Ukraine.
“If we win, I would feel almost certain that we will reach the finals,” he said.