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Scolari sets his sights

Published: Wednesday 23 June 2004, 17.00CET
Portugal coach Luiz Felipe Scolari is prepared to make "one or two tactical changes" to the team which will face England at the Estádio da Luz on Thursday.
by Jorge Vicente
from Alcochete
 
Published: Wednesday 23 June 2004, 17.00CET

Scolari sets his sights

Portugal coach Luiz Felipe Scolari is prepared to make "one or two tactical changes" to the team which will face England at the Estádio da Luz on Thursday.

The Portugal coach Luiz Felipe Scolari is prepared to make "one or two tactical changes" to the team which will face England in the first UEFA EURO 2004™ quarter-final in Lisbon on Thursday.

'Defensive balance'
The Portuguese defeated Spain 1-0 to clinch Group A on Sunday, 24 hours before England beat Croatia 4-2 to finish behind France in Group B. With Wayne Rooney in sizzling form, Scolari will "increase the defensive balance" of his side at the Estádio da Luz. "England have the same qualities as Spain," said the Brazilian. "Only at our best can we beat them and we'll have to produce that again."

'Addition of quality'
Scolari knows all about accounting for the English, having masterminded Brazil's quarter-final victory against Sven-Göran Eriksson's side in the 2002 FIFA World Cup. However, the coach believes Portugal will face a steelier task than the South Americans did in Shizuoka. "They are well organised, almost the same as the team in 2002 but with big addition of quality," he said. "We respect them. It should be one of the great games of the tournament.

Change of style
"I think the England team has evolved, they're much better than at the World Cup. Eriksson has continued his work very well, their system is very interesting and if we don't have total concentration, we run a serious risk. England are no longer a team who depend on high crosses into the penalty area, although they still use that sometimes. Now they keep the ball on the ground and move it around."

Pelé comparisons
Scolari said of the English media comparing the 18-year-old Rooney, the tournament's leading scorer with four goals, with his fellow countryman Pelé: "Rooney's a good player but there is only one Pelé - you could spend a thousand years using computer assistance and still not make another Pelé. Rooney's on a streak but we have to be aware of all England's players. If we want to win, we have to play very well. If we just play well, it's unlikely we'll win."

Couto confident
Portugal captain Fernando Couto played when the sides met in the Low Countries four years ago, with the Iberians coming from 2-0 down to win 3-2. "Like then we have it in us to reach the semi-finals," said the central defender. "We haven't lost an official match to them since 1966. We hadn't beaten Spain in 23 years but did so on Sunday to send them home." The message was clear, Portugal plan to send the English packing too.

Last updated: 23/06/04 17.19CET

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