As the profile of Euro 2012 rises, managers are determined to tone down the excitement. It is quite a task for the Portugal manager, Paulo Bento, but he was equal to it. There was a determination not to dwell on the exceptional talent of the captain Cristiano Ronaldo ahead of Thursday's encounter with the Czech Republic.
Despite those gifts, Bento refuses to treat the Real Madrid attacker as a special case and, indeed, bridled at the very notion that Ronaldo could be licensed as a free spirit. "No," he said. "There are instructions for him. Talent can be very stressful. I will give him the best instructions to deal with the task.
"We are confident, we are satisfied, we are prepared," Bento added. "There is a game that could get us to the semi-finals. We will play with a lot of will and talent and organisation."
It is hard not to place an emphasis on Ronaldo all the same. "It's natural that there is a lot of talk about the best player in the world," said the midfielder João Moutinho, rather ignoring the claims of Lionel Messi. "He's in the team to help us. Everyone has seen his goals. Ronaldo is a leader and continues working to do everything for the team."
For all that, the outcome is not a foregone conclusion. Indeed the opposition are familiar with hardship. Their qualifiers started with a 1-0 loss to Lithuania at home. Recovering from that and eventually downing Montenegro in the play-offs demonstrated persistence.
Players find encouragement where they must. Tomas Rosicky, the Czech captain, was happy to be reminded of Viktoria Pizen's adventures in the Champions League during the club season that has recently ended.
If he had not been so clearly in earnest, the Arsenal player would have sounded patronising towards his countrymen. "It was great," he said. Rosicky did have a case of sorts. Pizen were beaten 2-0 and 4-0 by Barcelona but they had enough morale at least to come third in their group.
Given that Petr Cech is in goal for his country, the Czech side do not lack distinction of a higher order still. There was anxiety, all the same, about Rosicky's return to his country for treatment on an achilles injury that continues to be a concern.
The manager Michal Bilek was disinclined to dwell on the issue. "If we have to do without him we will, as we did in the previous match," he said. That reference was significant because the Czechs won their group by downing Poland in Wroclaw and so eliminating the co-hosts.
There is a rising stress as Euro 2012 begins to hurtle now that the margin of error in the groups is gone. The need for impact has risen. In that regard, Ronaldo gleams with promise for Portugal yet the Czechs may well force even him to lift his display higher still now that we are out of the foothills of the competition.
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