Portugal has come painfully close to winning the European Championship before, only to fall just short.
Portugal lost 1-0 to Greece in the Euro 2004 final, and went down 2-1 to eventual winner France in the semifinals of Euro 2000.
Finding themselves in the semifinals of Euro 2012, the Portuguese say this time they’ll do everything to bring home the country’s first ever title.
“You asked me whether this would be the year of Portugal? I do hope so,” midfielder Custodio said on Monday. “I don’t have the ability to guess whether it’s going to be or not, but we’re going to fight to the death for this to be the year of Portugal.”
The task ahead is about as daunting as they come- Portugal plays defending world and European champion Spain on Wednesday in Donetsk, Ukraine.
The Spanish haven’t been as dominant or impressive at Euro 2012 as in years past, but they advanced out of the group stage unbeaten before easily dispatching France 2-0 in the quarterfinals.
“Spain is a great team that won the last two major competitions,” Custodio said. “It has always played to win, but so do we.”
The last time the teams met at a tournament was in the second round of the 2010 World Cup, a match that Spain won 1-0 en route to its first world title. However, Portugal can draw a bit of confidence from a 4—0 win over Spain in a 2010 friendly.
Another boost for Portugal comes from Cristiano Ronaldo, who has found his scoring touch for the national team, firing home three goals in the past two matches at the tournament.
While Spain has mixed up its system, alternating between a six-player midfield and a lone striker, Portugal says it’s going to stick with what works.
“Our weapons are not a secret, our weapons are the same ones we’ve used in all of our games,” Custodio said. “Our way of playing is going to be the same. Our way of playing when we have the ball is going to be exactly the same.
“We’re going to try to play our aggressive game, what we have in the attack. We’re going to fight a lot, we’re going to fight a lot when we don’t have the ball. We’re going to try to get it back as quick as possible.”
Against a talented Spanish side that dominates possession and looks to wear down its opponents, that may be the key for Portugal if it wants to put its hands on that first European title.