Ronaldo sees better pitch as key for Portugal

Lisbon: Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo believes his side`s bold performance on a difficult pitch in Zenica last week will inspire them to overpower Bosnia at home on Tuesday and qualify for Euro 2012.

Friday`s scoreless draw left the two-legged playoff wide open but the Portuguese are confident they will make the most of home advantage after the Bilino Polje stadium`s swampy pitch stopped them converting their control of the match into a win.

"That wasn`t grass; we played on a vegetable patch. It was very difficult and still we did well and created chances," Ronaldo said.

The world`s most expensive player, who last week picked up his second Golden Boot award as Europe`s top scorer, was the most dangerous player of the game but his finishing was hampered by the poor state of the pitch.

"We now have a second chance at home in front of our fans, with a good pitch and have all the conditions to ensure we win," he added. "We have to assume we are favourites and show our superiority -- we are a better team."

Portugal, runners-up at Euro 2004, are on the verge of achieving their seventh consecutive qualification for a major international tournament.

Their hard-working opponents were 12 minutes away from securing a berth in next year`s finals when they led France 1-0 in their final group match, but were sent to the playoffs after the hosts` late equaliser.

A scoring draw or a win at the Luz Stadium on Tuesday would send the Bosnians to their first major tournament as an independent nation.

The Portuguese had a dismal start to their Euro 2012 campaign but coach Paulo Bento revived the team`s hopes, earning five straight wins after he took over in September last year.

Still, needing only a draw to finish top of qualifying Group H and avoid the playoffs, they lost 2-1 to Denmark in their last qualifier to end up second.

"All teams go through different cycles and tough moments but we had a good qualifying (campaign), we simply did not grab that one point in Denmark ... now, I believe we will win," Ronaldo said.

Bosnia, meanwhile, were hoping a better pitch would also work in their favour.

"Maybe the Portuguese think we will be easier opponents on a better surface but we won`t. The fact is that we are also looking forward to play on a quality pitch," Bosnia striker Edin Dzeko said.

His partner in attack, Vedad Ibisevic, a second half substitute in Zenica, added: "We are confident that the tie will go down to the wire, especially if we play like we did against France in Paris."

Midfielder Miralem Pjanic and Dzeko, who had a quiet first leg, are expected to shake off minor knocks and play.

Knowing a positive result would take them to the finals, coach Safet Susic could be tempted to start with a more adventurous 4-4-2 formation with Ibisevic alongside Dzeko up front.

Probable teams:

Portugal: Rui Patricio; Joao Pereira, Bruno Alves, Pepe, Fabio Coentrao; Cristiano Ronaldo, Raul Meireles, Miguel Veloso, Joao Moutinho, Nani; Helder Postiga

Bosnia: Asmir Begovic; Adnan Zahirovic, Emir Spahic, Sanel Jahic, Sasa Papac; Haris Medunjanin, Elvir Rahimic, Miralem Pjanic, Senad Lulic; Vedad Ibisevic, Edin Dzeko

Bureau Report

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