By Ernst Hasler
Beaten 5-0 by Turkey in their last UEFA EURO 2004™ qualifier, Liechtenstein face another difficult assignment on Saturday at home to England. Liechtenstein coach Ralf Loose spoke to uefa.com about how he is preparing for the match and gave his impressions of an England team he saw defeated by Australia last month.
uefa.com: Were Australia good or was it that England played badly?
Ralf Loose: I was surprised by the quality of the Australians. Many Australians play in the English Premiership and therefore they are used to the pressure. Australia took the lead despite an ambitious start by England. But the English did not take the match seriously and the final result proves it.
uefa.com: You know the England team very well. Did any of their new players catch your eye in the Australia game?
Loose: James Beattie [who is not in the England squad to face Liechtenstein] is big and strong and very good in the Premiership - he could make a very good partnership with Michael Owen, who's small and fast. Australia's defence covered the front two very well, but you could still see their qualities. Wayne Rooney contributed in attack too, but I cannot say that any of the newcomers really caught my eye.
uefa.com: What do you consider the strengths of the England team?
Loose: England are known for their attack. Their tactics are concentrated on the build-up of play in attack, although at the same time they have an organised and very strong defence.
To stop their very fast counterattacks we have to find a way of testing them at the other end.
uefa.com: What do Liechtenstein have to pay attention to the most?
Loose: It is difficult to give a short answer. England are a team with many strong points. David Beckham is known for his qualities in set-piece situations. Owen cannot be let out of sight for a second. Paul Scholes in midfield is also a very dangerous player going forward. In defence Rio Ferdinand and [injury doubt] Sol Campbell often go forward and also need a great deal of attention.
uefa.com: As regards your own side's development, is it a good sign that seven national-team players are regular starters at FC Vaduz, who are now challenging for promotion to the Swiss top flight?
Loose: This is a positive sign and, from my point of view, no surprise. Vaduz are an ambitious team and their team is built on a number of regular Liechtenstein internationals.
uefa.com: You named an unchanged squad for this match. Why was that?
Loose: I have put my confidence in the usual players who have played the last few matches. We decided to introduce some tactical changes in our play lately and the players who are in the team are the ones who have adapted well to the new system. It was not easy to introduce these changes with so little time to work on them ahead of the EURO 2004™ qualifiers. For that reason I am counting only on players selected from the start of the campaign.
uefa.com: What system are you planning to use against England?
Loose: I do not want to speak about the system now. The important thing is for our players to be fit and healthy. I will have a separate meeting with the key players and discuss our final strategy. If one of the key players happens to be injured, a change in strategy will immediately follow. In general we want to work on our attacking play and
I think there might be a chance to test the English defence if we keep the ball on the ground, and maybe we'll get a chance to score.
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