Czech Republic v Portugal

Meireles hopes to cause shock

June 21, 2012
By ESPN staff

Raul Meireles won the Champions League with Chelsea against the odds

Portugal midfielder Raul Meireles believes the underdog tag could work in his side's favour as Euro 2012 moves into the knockout stages.

The first quarter-final sees Portugal take on Czech Republic on Thursday and, while they may be favourites for this game, Chelsea star Meireles believes no one expects them to be crowned champions on July 1.

"Nobody regarded us as favourites before the tournament, just as nobody regarded Chelsea as favourites in the Champions League," Meireles said. "It will be very difficult, but it's our dream, just as it's the dream of all Portuguese people.

"We've started to play very well, but this started with the preparation games back home in Portugal. The confidence has always been the same."

Coach Paulo Bento stressed, though, that Portugal must not get carried away despite finishing ahead of Denmark and Netherlands in the Group of Death.

"We are not entering into this state of euphoria," Bento said. "We are pleased with what we did and proud of what we did, but we've had our moment to celebrate. Afterwards, we began to relax and prepare for the test ahead.

"We have a chance to reach the semi-finals, nothing more than that. We will play one game at a time and I am sure that [against Czech Republic] we will play with humility as we have before."