Bay­ern-bound Sanches wary of threat posed by fu­ture team-mate

The Herald - Herald Sport - - EURO 2016 -

YOU could be for­given for think­ing Por­tu­gal is just about one player but there is ac­tu­ally a po­ten­tial su­per­star in the squad whose first name isn’t Cris­tiano.

Re­nato Sanches is just 18 and yet af­ter a su­perb break­through sea­son with Ben­fica he won him­self not only a place for the Euro­pean Cham­pi­onships but also a €35m move to Bay­ern Mu­nich.

The 18-year-old, like all his team­mates, re­mains in a cer­tain some­one’s shadow; how­ever, the mid­fielder is a real prospect and tipped to be Por­tuguese foot­ball’s next big thing.

A shock draw last time out against Ice­land, the small­est coun­try in terms of pop­u­la­tion that have made any ma­jor fi­nals, was a set­back, and yet Sanches is con­fi­dent things can be put right against Aus­tria to­day.

“The squad are re­laxed and de­spite the draw we still feel good,” he said. “In fact, it in­creases our mo­ti­va­tion and de­sire be­cause we know that ev­ery game will be more dif­fi­cult now. So I think we’re qui­etly de­ter­mined.

“I ex­pect the same from Aus­tria that I was ex­pect­ing from Ice­land – a very ag­gres­sive team. Ev­ery game is go­ing to be dif­fi­cult, we all know that. We are ex­pect­ing to come up against a very ag­gres­sive team that want to win, be­cause if they lose this match they’ll be in a very dif­fi­cult po­si­tion. So we’re ex­pect­ing to face a team play­ing with great in­ten­sity.

“David Alaba is a great player, and ev­ery­one is aware of that. A spe­cific plan? I don’t think so.

“Ev­ery player at this tour­na­ment is here be­cause they’re a qual­ity player. Some play­ers are bet­ter than oth­ers, of course.

“But I don’t think we have a spe­cific plan to stop Alaba, even though he’s a great player.”

Sanches is the youngest player ever to rep­re­sent Por­tu­gal at a fi­nals, beat­ing Ron­aldo and even Euse­bio.

“I’m very happy about that,” he said. “It’s bril­liant to play in th­ese matches here with my team-mates – fan­tas­tic play­ers who I’m slowly get­ting to know.

“I am very happy that I am able to en­joy this mo­ment.”

ON THE RISE: Por­tu­gal’s Re­nato Sanches

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