KHARKIV, UKRAINE // Maybe a change of scenery will help Cristiano Ronaldo rediscover his Midas touch.
Having played their Euro 2012 opening pool matches in the western city of Lviv, Portugal have moved to Kharkiv for tonight's pool finale with Holland, who have been based here for the duration.
Superficially, the two venues differ starkly. Lviv is a heritage listed city of grandeur, while the Metalist Stadium in Kharkiv is surrounded by unprepossessing Soviet-era tower blocks.
You might think Lviv would have been more to Ronaldo's liking.
He could do with the help. The Real Madrid forward was atypically inept last time out against Denmark, and was riled by unfavourable comparisons between him and Lionel Messi in the aftermath.
Even with a listless talisman, Portugal still scraped past the Danes, which is a sign of the strength of spirit among their squad, according to Paulo Bento, the manager.
"One of the very best players in the world has not scored with two great chances, but we showed such a great effort that we scored at the end anyway," Bento said yesterday.
"That is very typical of us and the whole Portuguese people. The Portugal players are like that, too."
Bento dismissed the idea that Holland's local knowledge will work in their favour.
"I don't think the Netherlands have an advantage because they've played here twice," he said.
"We haven't been there yet, but those aspects won't have any influence. What matters is the effort put in, the tactics implemented and we have to be ready to sacrifice.
"We have already shown great defensive quality. We will try to counter-attack better and will fight until the end."
According to Bruno Alves, the centre-back, Portugal's players will not be cowed by high-stakes nature of the game.
"Most of the players involved here are used to playing decisive games, it is routine for players at this level," he said.
"We have already won a game, so that might be a psychological advantage.
"We are confident in our ability to win this game."
Holland's limp performance in the campaign has met with talk of disunity among their playing ranks, and Mark van Bommel, their captain, acknowledged spirit is low.
"After two losses, the atmosphere isn't like it would have been if we'd won two matches," he said. "This is normal."
Bert van Marwijk, the Dutch coach, plans to alter his starting line up given the size of the task facing them.
Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, the striker, and Rafael van der Vaart, in a creative midfield role, could both be included as the Dutch have to chase goals from the outset.
"We have to go for it," said Van Marwijk, who may be forced to sacrifice his son-in-law, Van Bommel, to accommodate Van der Vaart.
"We know from the start that if Germany win we have to win by two clear goals. That is the difference now.
"[Portugal] have enough in their drawer [to cause problems]. They have Ronaldo and Nani but they have other players as well. They are a great team."
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