Poland forward Arkadiusz Milik has revealed Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo has been an inspiration to him in his development - but that he will not be paying him undue respect when the teams meet in the Euro 2016 quarter-finals Thursday.
"I’m not hiding the fact that I have tried to learn from Cristiano Ronaldo," 22-year-old Milik told a news conference Wednesday. "He’s a world class player, one of the world’s best. You have to take inspiration from him.
"You have to work hard and he’s a great example of that. It will be something special for me to play against him tomorrow, so I’m very happy. But I’ll be focusing on me and my team - not looking up to him."
Poland made history by reaching this stage of a European Championship but, with a potential semi-final against Wales or Belgium waiting, are not simply content to be in the last eight.
"The fact we achieved these results at the tournament is not really a surprise for us," coach Adam Nawalka said. "We've been making progress since the beginning of our cooperation, we've been playing better, and that's why we've been expecting that.
"We need to look not only at Cristiano Ronaldo but other players as well. They represent a very high level and we need to play at a very high level to win."
Nawalka has midfielder Bartosz Kapustka back from a ban but the biggest issue with his team is misfiring striker Robert Lewandowski, who has not found the net in France after topping the scoring charts in qualifying.
"Robert Lewandowski, given that's he one of the world's best strikers, the best number nine in the world, is marked very tightly this tournament, with double and triple marking, it happens," Nawalka said when asked if the referees owed him more protection as the most fouled player in the tournament.
"I think referees should pay attention to some brutal fouls in football in general ... if opponents try to eliminate players at any cost, referees must be alert with yellow and red cards."
Portugal coach Fernando Santos said he was not worried about any attempt to pressurize German referee Felix Brych, who will handle the game, adding that all officials left at the tournament were unbiased.
"It will be a very good game between two good teams, both want to be in the semi-finals," he said. "Only the best teams who work as teams are present in this round so there's no favourite."
The performance of Ronaldo could be key to easing Portugal into the next round, though he has scored only twice in four games so far - a modest tally for by his standards.
"Everybody's talking about him and there's a reason for that," Santos said. "Why does everyone talk about Cristiano Ronaldo, because he's an amazing player. People only talk about great players, there are hundreds of players here and we don't talk about them every day.
"We want Cristiano to shoot 15 times and score 10 goals - but our opponents won’t let us and that’s part of the game."
Santos has doubts over midfielders Joao Mountinho and Andre Gomes, and defender Raphael Guerreiro, and will wait until match-day to make a decision on their fitness.
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