Soccer-Portugal won't man-mark Belgium's danger man De Bruyne, says Moutinho

·2-min read
FILE PHOTO: Euro 2020 - Group B - Finland v Belgium

By Richard Martin

SEVILLE (Reuters) - Portugal have no plans to man-mark Belgium playmaker Kevin de Bruyne as it would merely play into the hands of their multi-talented side, midfielder Joao Moutinho has said ahead of Sunday's Euro 2020 last 16 tie.

De Bruyne has only played 135 minutes at the tournament but has one goal and two assists, inspiring Belgium to a 2-1 comeback over Denmark and playing a pivotal role in the 2-0 win over Finland.

Moutinho said his team would have to work hard to keep De Bruyne at bay but would be better off coming up with a plan to deprive Belgium space overall.

"If he has space to play he's even more dangerous. But if they all have space, all of them will be able to play their game more calmly and that will make our job even more difficult," he told a news conference on Saturday.

"Kevin is very competent, we have to be watch him closely but not just focus on one player. That would set the others free and that would be even worse. As a team we will try to minimize their strengths and make the most of ours."

Coach Fernando Santos also ruled out targeting individuals.

"It's not about pulling one of our players over to talk about player A, B or C, because we have to focus on what we have to do as a team," he said.

"We can't afford to concede them any space, because of how much quality they have in midfield and attack. The team that defends the best, who knows how to manage the ball better and create opportunities, will win the game."

Portugal, who came third in Group F with four points, have two days less to prepare for the game than Belgium, who pulled off a clean sweep of victories to top Group B.

But Moutinho dismissed suggestions that would work against his side. "We can't give it too much importance. They'll have two more days than us but we will have had four to get to the game," he said.

"It happened to us at Euro 2016 and we still managed to recover well. We just have to make sure we rest and train well and are at 100%."

(Reporting by Richard Martin; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)

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