Portugal must tire out Slovenia in Euros last 16, says Fernandes

Portugal midfielder <a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Bruno Fernandes;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Bruno Fernandes</a> wants his team to tire Slovenia on Monday in Frankfurt in their Euro 2024 last 16 clash (FRANCK FIFE)

Portugal playmaker Bruno Fernandes said his team needs to "tire out" Slovenia on Monday in their Euro 2024 last 16 clash in Frankfurt.

The Manchester United midfielder admitted he gets frustrated playing against defensive sides but pledged to find solutions against the minnows in only their second Euros.

Slovenia held England to a goalless draw to progress third from Group C and after Portugal struggled to break down a defensive Czech Republic in their opener, Fernandes said patience was the key.

"Sometimes people don't understand when we face such low blocks, there's no space between the lines and if there's no space then we can't play the ball there," Fernandes told a news conference Sunday.

"Against the Czechs I was very frustrated -- we needed to play the ball out wide and our goals came from two crosses...

"(Tomorrow) we need to tire them out. If we have the ball we're closer to scoring our goal."

Fernandes scored in the 3-0 win over Turkey in Portugal's second group game, which was his team's best performance thus far, but the Selecao were shocked in a 2-0 defeat by Georgia last time out.

Earlier this week, veteran defender Pepe, 41, called on the team to be more focussed ahead of the clash against Slovenia, who have reached the knock-out stages in a major tournament for the first time.

"Whatever Pepe said, we take it seriously, he is very experienced," said Fernandes, who won the competition with Portugal in their singular triumph in 2016.

"Pepe is very assertive in everything he says, he's very honest and open and nobody takes anything the wrong way.

"The defeat shows some things we have to improve, we've been working on it and tomorrow we have to show it."

Portugal coach Roberto Martinez rotated most of his side against Georgia apart from misfiring superstar Cristiano Ronaldo, who failed to score in three group matches.

The Spaniard said the defeat should not be taken too strongly to heart given the circumstances around the game, with Portugal already through top of Group F.

"Let's put the game against Georgia into context, our performance is a consequence of being first in the group and having six points already," Martinez explained.

"We need to learn some lessons from the game... if we don't stick together and we're not as intense as the opponent, if we don't have the thirst to win, then it's not possible, because there are no easy games."

Martinez said he admired Slovenia coach Matjaz Kek and the work he has done with their national team.

"It's a shame we have to face them because I've really got a soft spot for what this team is doing," said Martinez.

"He is getting them playing like a (club) team, with national teams you need to find the way to get the best from your players, with Slovenia he plays a system very well."