Wales manager Chris Coleman says his team will need to be “streetwise” when they face experienced campaigners Portugal in their Euro 2016 semi-final in Lyon on Wednesday.
The match will be Portugal’s fifth European championship semi-final and fourth in the last five editions of the tournament.
Wales, by contrast, are novices in terms of their international pedigree and are playing in their first major tournament in 58 years and their first ever semi-final.
Coming to terms with some of international football’s darker arts, where teams often seek to gain advantages by either breaking or bending rules without being punished, has been a steep learning curve for Wales, according to Coleman.
“At this level of international football, someone makes a wrong decision and within two or three seconds you are behind in the game,” Coleman told reporters on Tuesday.
“It’s about being streetwise and we used to be far too honest. We’ve got better at that. Sometimes it’s not very pretty, it can look ugly. Anything you need to do to stay in the game, you do it.”
Wednesday’s match has been billed as a battle between the world’s two most expensive players in Wales’ Gareth Bale and Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo.
There has been intense scrutiny on both Real Madrid players in the lead-up to the encounter with their comparative attitudes, team ethic and workrates coming under the spotlight.
Bale has been widely acclaimed as a team player while Ronaldo has faced criticism during an under-par tournament for putting himself first, taking all of Portugal’s free kicks and berating team mates for mistakes.
“You are either a team player or you are not,” Coleman said.
“Being comfortable in a team environment, being happy to work to a certain type of ethic, being with a bunch of people that enjoy being together, enjoy working hard and enjoy putting themselves out there… you can’t pretend at that, you are either like that or you are not.
“Obviously, Bale is exactly like that, just like the rest of the (Wales) lads. We had a whole campaign to get through where they were all exactly the same.”
Ronaldo has endured a mixed tournament so far and has only scored in one match, when he netted twice in a 3-3 draw against Hungary in the group stage. He remains a threat, however.
“I think it is obvious that he is one of the greatest players in the world,” Wales captain Ashley Williams said.
“But they do have other weapons in their team so we are not obsessing over him.”