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Scolari wary of Germany danger

Published: Thursday 19 June 2008, 13.36CET
Luiz Felipe Scolari may have beaten Germany in a FIFA World Cup final but the Portugal coach is keenly aware just how menacing his quarter-final opponents can be.
by Simon Hart
from Basel

Tournament statistics


Goals scored7
Total attempts65
Attempts on target30
Attempts off target22
Attempts blocked0
Attempts against woodwork5
Yellow cards8
Red Cards0
Fouls committed63
Fouls suffered78

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Published: Thursday 19 June 2008, 13.36CET

Scolari wary of Germany danger

Luiz Felipe Scolari may have beaten Germany in a FIFA World Cup final but the Portugal coach is keenly aware just how menacing his quarter-final opponents can be.

Luiz Felipe Scolari put his hand into his pocket, pulled out a piece of paper and started reading to the packed room of journalists: "No17 Germany – 1m98, No13 – 1m88, Klose – 1m82, No21 – 195. I have to worry about that – and that my players are 115cm, 120cm." It was a moment of comedy yet it illustrated one of the Portugal's principal concerns about their UEFA EURO 2008™ quarter-final opponents Germany.

Aerial threat
For all Portugal's powers of self-expression, Scolari said he was anxious about their ability to handle Germany's aerial threat. "I have to worry about finding some way of dealing with their free-kicks," said the Brazilian, whose players – taking the probable starting XIs – concede on average seven centimetres to their opponents. Yet Scolari also recognised the Germans' ability on the floor, starting with a player he will soon be working with at Chelsea FC. "He is a great player, with a lot of technical quality. He is one of the great players in this tournament," he said of Germany captain Michael Ballack, scorer of the goal against Austria that earned a quarter-final place on Monday.

Löw suspended
Ballack was suspended when Scolari oversaw Germany's 2-0 defeat by Brazil in the 2002 FIFA World Cup final and the Mannschaft enter this contest with another absentee on their minds in coach Joachim Löw, who will watch from the stands after his dismissal during the Austria game. Löw's assistant Hans-Dieter Flick and goalkeeping coach Andreas Köpke will relay his plans, and team manager Oliver Bierhoff admitted: "Coaches act on instinct as the game progresses and this won't be possible, so it is important for him to be able to set things up properly before the match." That will include instructions on handling Cristiano Ronaldo. "The best player in the world" is how Bierhoff described him before adding: "You can never stop him for 90 minutes but it is very important that the defence and midfield stay very close together when he has the ball." Scolari's own comments underlined Ronaldo's significance to his team. "He has a strong will to win that I've not seen in anyone else and this rubs off on others."

Fitness doubts
Germany have Bastian Schweinsteiger back after suspension, though it remains to be seen whether he will replace Clemens Fritz on the right or fill the left-wing slot with Lukas Podolski, calf problem permitting, moving up front alongside Miroslav Klose. Another fitness doubt is Torsten Frings, who broke a rib against Austria. Bierhoff said the midfielder was "very positive" and though Thomas Hitzlsperger could deputise, Germany fans will not need reminding how Frings was missed in their World Cup semi-final defeat by Italy two summers ago. For his part, Scolari will select "the same team" that beat Turkey and the Czech Republic. Portugal's coach insisted the decision to rest eight players from Sunday's 2-0 loss to Switzerland had not harmed their momentum and was optimistic about securing a third successive EURO semi-final. "Let's see if we can improve our finishing – if we do, we have a good chance." Yet he will not need telling, as Bierhoff noted, that "Germany often become stronger when facing good teams".

Last updated: 05/05/16 11.15CET