Portugal coach Martínez: “Euros will be about small details, there are no favourites”

Roberto Martínez says there is no clear favourite for this summer’s European Championships, and insists that the small details will dictate who will win the tournament in Germany.

Portugal manager Martínez believes there are seven frontrunners to be crowned champions of the continent, while the Spaniard also feels his team must grow as the competition progresses if they are to be successful.

Euro 2024 will be Martínez’s first major tournament in charge of Portugal, having taken the job last January, succeeding Fernando Santos after the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. Speaking to Rio Ferdinand’s FIVE podcast, Martínez revealed that he met with all his new players ahead of announcing his first squad for Euros qualifiers last March.

“Before Portugal I had the experience of Belgium,” he said. “What I learned is that I could not work with a group of players without meeting them. Everyone knows the players, everyone can follow them, we have the facilities now of seeing everything a player does, in training, in games.

“But you need to meet the person behind the player. So I got the list of 26 Portugal players and I went to meet every player. For me it was very important to have a starting point with everybody. We had two qualifying games and from the first day I had to meet the players before I call them.”

The Seleção open their Euro 2024 campaign on Tuesday 18th June against Czechia in Leipzig, with many tipping Portugal as one of the favourites. Ferdinand suggested that France, England and Portugal were the clear frontrunners, but Martínez believes the potential group of winners is larger.

“Being able to win a big tournament is down to details,” Martinez insisted “There’s a false perception of the winner. We all feel they turn up and win 3-0 every game. Look at Spain, world champions in 2010. Everyone speaks about the best national team ever. They lost the first game. They had a penalty shootout with Paraguay. These moments. An Arjen Robben 1v1 [in the final]. Small details.

“What prepares you for the small details, expecting the unexpected, facing adversity. Those aspects come with games, being together. That’s the excitement we’re looking forward to. We have three games at the Euros, it’s how much we can grow in those three games.

“I always felt the winner of the big tournament is always in relation to the journey they had in those three games. So you earn the right of arriving at a big tournament. And then there are two teams: the one that arrives, and then the one that grows into those seven games. We’re looking forward to having every aspect as clean and as ready as we can.

“I don’t think there are favourites. I think there are seven national teams that on their day, small details can allow you to progress. The Germans and the Italians go into every tournament believing that they should be winning. With those two national teams, you don’t have to look at what’s happened in the last two years. When they’re in a tournament they’re always competitive.

“Then England, Spain, France, Belgium and Portugal. There are seven nations that each in their own right should be believing they can go far. But again, it’s that false perception of the winner. Big tournaments are won by very small details.”

By @SeanGillen9