Russia v Portugal: Euro 2016 starts now for Oliveira


Russia host Portugal in Krasnodar on Saturday as the two nations look to maintain their strong momentum going into Euro 2016.

Both finished their qualifying campaigns on impressive form to book their tickets to France and now meet in what is the first part of double-headers for each side during the international break.

Portugal have rested captain Cristiano Ronaldo for their trip to Russia and the match against Luxembourg on Tuesday, while experienced trio Ricardo Quaresma, Ricardo Carvalho and Tiago are also given a break.

Adrien Silva, Danny, Eder and Fabio Coentrao miss the game through injury, meaning Fernando Santos has an experimental squad at his disposal which will be captained by Nani.

However, on-loan Nottingham Forest striker Nelson Oliveira insists the Euros campaign starts now for a Portugal team who have won nine of their last 11 games.

The 24-year-old told A Bola: "The Euros begin now for us and these are games that we can use to prepare us better for the competition. 

"We intend to produce good matches and win, because we always want to win. The coach was watching several other players and I was one of them.

"I wanted to be called and was in a good moment for my club. I worked hard to be here and the coach thought I deserved to be called, so I am grateful for that."

Nice defender Ricardo Pereira has earned his first international call-up and feels the absence of many of the squad's senior players provides others with a vital opportunity to stake their claims.

"Of course I hope to be at the Euros, everyone anticipates the decision - even those who did not make this squad," he said.

"These two games are important for those who have fewer opportunities to show their value to the coach and help the team. We do have the quality to win the Euros but we have to show it on the pitch."

Russia are also on a high after Leonid Slutsky masterminded a late recovery in their qualifying campaign after replacing Fabio Capello at the helm.

Four straight wins saw them surge into second place and condemn Sweden to the play-offs, with defender Andrei Semyonov making it clear that their games against Portugal and Croatia will be taken seriously.

"Playing for the national team there is always a big responsibility," he said. 

"We are all preparing for the friendly match as if it is an official game. It is as important as ever to do that because we face very serious opponents in Portugal and Croatia.

"We would like to play against the key players but in principle, Portugal have someone to replace each of their leaders. I would have liked Ronaldo to play, as it would have been interesting to face him.

"Things are a little different for us now. Slutsky creates a relaxed and pleasant atmosphere."

Vasili Berezutski and Oleg Shatov are out due to injury.

These two countries last met during qualification for the 2014 World Cup, with both winning their respective home matches 1-0 as Russia eventually topped the group by a point.