|Attempts on target||40||32|
|Attempts off target||52||13|
|Attempts against woodwork||2||1|
Portugal face England tonight in the first UEFA EURO 2004™ quarter-final at the Estádio da Luz with both teams burdened by huge expectation.
Portugal, fresh from victory over Spain, carry the fervent hopes of the host nation, while in England confidence levels have rocketed after the dazzling displays of tournament top scorer Wayne Rooney.
The match comes four years after Portugal's dramatic 3-2 win against England at UEFA EURO 2000™, and just two years after Portugal coach Luiz Felipe Scolari ended the English 2002 FIFA World Cup bid during his time in charge of Brazil. The meeting of Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo, the tournament's brightest young stars so far, adds further spice to the mix.
Scolari this week insisted that this England side are superior to the team beaten 2-1 by Brazil in Shizuoka. "I think the England team have evolved, they're much better than at the World Cup," he said. "Sven-Göran Eriksson has done a great job. England are no longer a team that depend on high balls into the penalty area, although they still use that sometimes. Now they keep the ball on the ground and move it around."
Scolari's decision to reshape the Portugal lineup after their opening defeat by Greece, particularly the demotion of Rui Costa and Fernando Couto, has been vindicated. Equally, his substitution of Pauleta for Nuno Gomes in the Spain victory also paid off. The SL Benfica man will start up front in place of the suspended Pauleta in an otherwise unchanged team.
Nuno Gomes emerged as an international star with his goals against England in that EURO 2000™ win in Eindhoven. "That match was the most important in my career. It made me as a player because it was my first start for Portugal," he said. Nuno Gomes and Luís Figo will be the only Portuguese survivors from that match on starting duty against England, for whom Gary Neville, Sol Campbell, David Beckham, Paul Scholes and Michael Owen started in Eindhoven.
All are key players under Eriksson, who expects a tough task on Thursday. "We are happy to be in the quarter-finals but we deserve to be here," said the England coach. "It won't be easy against the host nation but it should not be easy at this stage. The only thing we need to do better is defending on set-pieces - two wide free-kicks against Croatia and two goals. We need to improve on that."
Portugal, for their part, are wary of Rooney, who has scored four goals in his last two games. But Scolari does not agree with the anointment of Rooney as "the new Pelé". "Rooney is a good player but there is only one Pelé - you could spend a thousand years using computer assistance and still not make another Pelé," he said. "Rooney is 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."
While some have been hyping up the meeting of Rooney and Ronaldo after the Everton FC forward felled the Manchester United FC winger in a Premiership match last December, more telling may be the coming together of Rooney and Ricardo Carvalho, arguably the best defender at EURO 2004™.
Portugal have not conceded a goal since Ricardo Carvalho replaced Couto and the FC Porto defender is relishing the duel, saying of Rooney: "He's having an excellent EURO and is very important for England. The way to stop him or any quality player is not to give him any space and try to control his movement."
Portugal (probable): Ricardo; Miguel, Jorge Andrade, Ricardo Carvalho, Nuno Valente; Luís Figo, Costinha, Deco, Maniche, Ronaldo; Nuno Gomes.
England (probable): James; G Neville, Terry, Campbell, A Cole; Beckham, Lampard, Gerrard, Scholes; Owen, Rooney.
Referee: U Meier (Switzerland)
©UEFA.com 1998-2011. All rights reserved.