WC: England, Portugal set to clash

The World Cup squads of England and Portugal are laden with stars that have yet to achieve at an international level.

updated: February 25, 2007 11:35 IST
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The World Cup squads of England and Portugal are laden with stars that have yet to achieve at an international level. They meet in the World Cup quarterfinals on Saturday with points to prove. As do their coaches. At least Portugal has been earning praise from some for its play in Germany, unlike England, which has been branded as uninspiring and lucky. "We couldn't have had a better preparation. We couldn't have had a better run of fixtures to get us to this stage,'' said England defender Gary Neville. "We're two games away from a World Cup final. Can we win two football matches? I think this team is capable of beating anybody,'' he added. This is Portugal's fourth World Cup and only the second time it has advanced past the first round. The only other time was 40 years ago. Then, England beat Portugal 2-1 in the semifinals on its way to its only World Cup triumph in 1966. "I want to take the team as far as Eusebio did, which means a place in the semifinals,'' said Luiz Felipe Scolari, coach of Portugal. Since then, in major competitions, Portugal has always prevailed against England - winning 1-0 at the 1986 World Cup, 3-2 at the 2000 European Championship and the 6-5 on penalties in the 2004 European Championship quarterfinals. "Every time we go out of a competition at this stage, it's very painful. And to have it against Portugal twice at the quarterfinal stage would be very tough,'' said David Beckham, England captain. Scolari's feat The Portuguese coach masterminded the Euro 2004 defeat of England. Two years before that, he led Brazil to a World Cup quarterfinal win over England. England's last win over Portugal was a 3-0 victory in an April 1998 friendly. The two have drawn twice in friendly matches since. "England is a dangerous team with lots of experience,'' said Nuno Valente, Portugal defender. "England has got great world-class players. We have to be ready to meet one of the World Cup's best teams,'' he added. Armando Petit should replace Costinha while Tiago will fill Deco's role, or Luis Figo will come off the wing into the center, with Simao Sabrosa taking his place. England is expected to start Neville at right back after he missed the past three matches with a calf injury. That will allow Eriksson to play Owen Hargreaves in his preferred position as a defensive midfielder, should he decide to use a five-man midfield. (AP)