Portugal put in a solid, professional display to dispatch Luxembourg with ease Wednesday, 5-0 in their World Cup 2006 qualifying game. There were fears that the theoretically accessible Luxembourg might cause the same kinds of problems that Liechtenstein caused recently when Portugal dropped two points for the first time in Group 3. Such fears were swiftly dispelled as Portugal took hold of the reins of the game, and they never really let go, although their play could have been more incisive at times.
Boa Morte set Portugal on the way on ten minutes with a scrappy close-range goal, and Cristiano Ronaldo gave Portugal a comfortable 2-0 half-time lead with a header from a corner. Maniche extended the lead on 51 with a bobbling shot from outside the area, then Pauleta on 66 got the goal of the game, controlling the ball to the left of goal, turning inside and curling a neat shot coolly in. The 'Azores Cyclone' got his second, his 37th in 67 games (Eusébio scored 41) from the spot ten minutes from time.
In the other Group 3 games Wednesday, Russia beat Estonia 4-0 and Latvia won in Liechtenstein 3-1. Portugal are top of the group with 13 points from five games, followed by Slovakia with ten and Russia, Latvia and Estonia on seven. Slovakia and Russia have a game in hand.
Portugal's U-21s scored three in each half to beat their Luxembourg counterparts 6-1 Tuesday in qualifying Group 3 of the European Championship. Varela netted as early as the first minutee to show the way, and Filipe Oliveira and Pauo Sérgio added two before half time. In the second half, José Castro, Filipe Oliveira again and Manuel Fernandes made it the round six, with Philippe Durrer giving Luxembourg scant consolation.
Benfica players Miguel and Simão have been released from international duty for the upcoming game against Luxembourg through injury. FC Porto's Ricardo Quaresma has been called into the squad (from the U-21 squad already in Luxembourg) to replace Simão.
Luís Felipe Scolari has chosen the squad to face Luxembourg in the next World Cup 2006 qualifier next Wednesday. The only change from the recent squad that failed in Liechtenstein but put seven past Russia is FC Porto's Hugo Almeida, who comes in for the injured Nuno Gomes.
Goalkeepers: Ricardo (Sporting), Quim (Benfica);
Defenders: Miguel (Benfica), Paulo Ferreira (Chelsea), Ricardo Carvalho (Chelsea), Jorge Andrade (D. Coruña), Caneira (Valência), Jorge Ribeiro (Gil Vicente);
Midfielders: Petit (Benfica), Costinha (FC Porto), Maniche (FC Porto), Tiago (Chelsea), Deco (Barcelona);
Forwards: Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United), Simão (Benfica), Luís Boa Morte (Fulham), Hélder Postiga (FC Porto), Hugo Almeida (FC Porto), Pauleta (Paris-SG).
Portuguese midfielder Deco, currently at Barcelona, has denied that he asked Luís Felipe Scolari to rest him for the upcoming World Cup qualifier against Luxembourg , which Portugal are expected to win. The catalan sports paper Mundo Deportivo had said that Deco had suggested to Scolari that he be taken off if Portugal were leading at half-time.
Portugal will play two friendlies early in 2005: against the Republic of Ireland on 9 February in Dublin, and against Hungary on 29 March, probably in Basle.
The Latvian woman who streaked onto the pitch during Portugal's 2-0 win there in September has been given a two-year sentence, suspended for six months. After the streak, Liene Baldure, nicknamed 'strawberry', appeared on a reality show in Latvia called 'Talent Factory'.
What a difference four days make! Portugal plumbed the depths of abject mediocrity in Liechtenstein Saturday and hit an historic high at Alvalade Wednesday with a 7-1 (!) thrashing of supposed direct rivals for World Cup qualification, Russia. (See match reports)
Portugal Coach Felipe Scolari could barely conceal his joy, after he and the team came in for stiff criticism following the Liechtenstein debacle: "It's a result that doesn't exist ... just like the negative result [2-2 in Liechtenstein] that also only happens once in a lifetime. There are days when things go right and then others where everything goes wrong ... Today was one of our best performances ... everything was perfect ... we had twelve shots and seven went in - but it won't be like that every day ..."
The Russian coach Yartsev, on the other hand, was utterly shell-shocked. While not avoiding responsibility, he did say that it should be shared with the players, who had not shown any courage and didn't seem like they wanted to play for him. He postponed a possible resignation until after he could speak to the president of the Russian football federation.
Portugal's U-21s showed their elders the way Tuesday with a win over their Russian counterparts in Setúbal, in front of no more than 3,000 or so fans. Portugal didn't overly impress in terms of consistently coherent play, but hey did have the majority of the chances and scored two excellent goals. The first was by captain Ricardo Quaresma. The FC Porto winger picked a loose ball up on the corner of the penalty area, looked up, saw the ´keeper off his line and half-volleyed a brilliant looping shot just under the bar. Then on 88, Hugo Almeida brought final relief to the team with a tap-in after fine work on the left by Varela, on as sub just a minute before.
Portugal top the group for qulification for the European Championship at this level with three wins out of three, and three points ahead of Russia.
Portugal coach Felipe Scolari, disappointed with the team's result against Liechtenstein Saturday (2-2), hit back at the critics Monday: "Some of you journalists went too far in your criticisms. It seems that everything's wrong with my team just because they didn't play so well and conceded an unexpected draw. There are those of you who are talking about a catastrophe, which I can't accept ... and that's why I had to come and speak to you [journalists] ... The people should continue to believe in the Selecção."
Portugal play Russia in Sporting's Alvalade XXI Wednesday, But by Monday, there had only been 5,000 tickets sold for the 52,000 capacity stadium.
Portugal, ranked 8th in the world by FIFA, let slip a two-goal first-half lead Saturday to draw 2-2 with Liechtenstein, ranked 151st. In previous games between the sides, Liechtenstein had lost all four, scored none and conceded 28. This time they proved an organised and combative side, but they were given a helping hand by having in front of them a team dulled by a debilitating superiority complex.
Pauleta on 23 minutes, a neat near-post flick, and an own-goal by Hasler on 39 set Portugal up for what should have been a comfortable ride to victory. But they came out in the second half as if the game was won, and Liechtenstein, to their credit, grabbed their chance at relative glory (they had only before won one official game and drawn three).
Burgmeier on 49 finished off a brave run by Beck through a permissive Portuguese rearguard, and a quarter of an hour from the end the same Beck lofted a free kick from deep over the Portuguese defence and past a despairing Ricardo. The rest of the game was a story of Portugal preferring to pepper the Liechtenstein defence with long balls, with only the occasional attempt at coherent approach play. And it must be said that they got their just desserts.
The teams lined up:
Liechtenstein: Peter Jehle, Michael Stocklasa, Daniel Steuble, Daniel Hasler, Christoph Ritter, Martin Stocklasa, Raphael Rohrer (Roger Beck, 46), Andreas Gerster, Thomas Beck, (Rony Buchel, 88) Mario Frick (Daniel Frick, 90), Franz Burgmeier.
Portugal: Ricardo, Paulo Ferreira, Ricardo Carvalho, Jorge Andrade, Jorge Ribeiro, Maniche, Costinha (Tiago, 46), Deco, Cristiano Ronaldo (Hélder Postiga, 60), Pauleta, Simão (Petit, 56).
In the other Group 2 games, Russia beat Luxembourg 4-0 away, while Slovakia also put four past Lithuania, the final score 4-1. Portugal play Russia in Lisbon Wednesday in what has now becoem a crucial game.
Slovakia top the group on ten points, with Portugal second on seven and Estonia third on six.
As reported on footballportugal yesterday, right back Miguel of Benfica, who pulled a thigh muscle in training Wednesday, will miss Saturday's World Cup qualifier against Liechtenstein and is doubtful for next Wednesday's game against Russia in Sporting's Alvalade stadium. Miguel will, however, travel to Liechtenstein with the rest of the squad Friday.
Interview with Felipe Scolari on the official UEFA site.
Portugal have risen three places to eighth in the FIFA international rankings, equal with Italy. The top ten:
6 Czech Republic
Right back Miguel of Benfica injured a leg in training Wednesday and may miss Saturday's World Cup qualifier against Liechtenstein.
Felipe Scolari announced his squad Friday for the upcoming World Cup 2006 qualifiers against Liechtenstein and Russia. In comes Gil Vicente left back Jorge Ribeiro (brother of FC Porto's Maniche) at the expense of Sporting's Rui Jorge. Benfica striker Nuno Gomes, injured until recently, also returns. Chelsea's Portuguese trio of Paulo ferreira, Ricardo Carvalho and Tiago are all there.
The full squad, by club:
Benfica: Quim, Miguel, Petit, Simão, Nuno Gomes
FC Porto: Costinha, Maniche, Hélder Postiga
Gil Vicente: Jorge Ribeiro
Chelsea: Paulo Ferreira, Ricardo Carvalho, Tiago
Desportivo La Corunha: Jorge Andrade
Fulham: Luís Boa Morte
Manchester United: Cristiano Ronaldo
Valência: Marco Caneira
Meanwhile, U-21 coach Agostinho Oliveira announced his squad for the upcoming games against the same countries, but for the European Championship of the category. Oliveira found a place for six from FC Porto, four from Sporting and also two young Chelsea players.
The full squad, by club:
FC Porto: Bruno Vale, Cristóvão, Hugo Almeida, Pedro Ribeiro, Raúl Meireles, Ricardo Quaresma;
Sporting: Custódio, Danny, Hugo Viana, Miguel Garcia, Paulo Sérgio;
Benfica: Amoreirinha, João Pereira, Manuel Fernandes;
Académica: José Castro;
Casa Pia: Varela;
Santa Clara: Organista;
U. Leiria: Laranjeiro;
V. Setúbal: Paulo Ribeiro;
Chelsea: Morais, Filipe Oliveira.
Rumours were going the rounds in Spain Tuesday that Portuguese National Coach, the Brazilian Felipe Scolari, was headed for Real Madrid. Portuguese Football Federation president Gilberto Madaíl denied the rumours: "No one has spoken to the Federation, and the national team coach has not spoken to me about any approach. In fact, he has a commitment to us until 2006. But I don't know what the future holds, of course."
With his goal against Estonia, striker Pauleta went clear into second place in the list of Portugal's all-time top scorers. He now has 32 goals, while Luís Figo, who is taking a pause from international football, has 31. Pauleta is chasing the legendary Eusébio's 41 for the Selecção.
Wednesday's game in Leiria was watched by 27,000, a relief for the FPF and helped by an appeal on the eve of the game by coach Luís Felipe Scolari.
Wednesday was the last time the giant No. 12 Portugal shirt was shown off before the game. It bears 15,000 signatures and messages, and the FPF are considering applying to the Guiness book of records to have it included.
In Wednesday's other Group 3 games, Latvia won 4-3 in Luxembourg while Slovakia made whipping boys out of Liechtenstein 7-0. Portugal play in Liechtenstein on 09/10, and on the same evening, Luxembourg receive Russia and Slovakia play Latvia
Portugal struggled to make headway against a resilient Estonia defence in their WC 2006 qualifier Wednesday. They might even have been a goal down in the first half, Costinha heading off the line with Ricardo out of position.
The story continued in the second half, with Estonia's 'keeper Poom making several good saves, one from Pauleta on the line reminiscent of the legendary Banks save v Pelé for England against Brazil in 1970. But Portugal coach Scolari made some astute substitutions in the second half, notably Miguel for Rui Jorge, switching Paulo Ferreira to the left, and Hélder Postiga for Maniche.
A quarter of an hour from the end, just when a pleasingly packed Municipal Stadium in Leiria was fearing the worst, the flood gates opened to let in four goals. Cristiano Ronaldo opened the scoring with a header from a deep cross from the right by Deco. Portugal had found the key. The remaining three goals, from Pauleta and Hélder Postiga (2) all came from crosses from the right, two of which by Cristiano Ronaldo.
Portugal lined up:
Ricardo, Paulo Ferreira, Ricardo Carvalho, Jorge Andrade, Rui Jorge (Miguel, 56 m); Costinha, Maniche (Hélder Postiga, 46 m), Cristiano Ronaldo, Deco, Simão (Boa Morte, 70 m); Pauleta.
Portugal have a maximum six points from their first two games, an excellent springboard for hopefully great things.
Portugal U-21s put in an assured performance Tuesday to beat a weak Estonia side 3-0 in Águeda. Paulo Sérgio opened the scoring on 13 minutes with a terrific shot from outside the area that flew into the top left-hand corner. Two minutes later, Hugo Almeida, drafted in from the full international squad, pounced on a fumble by the Estonia 'keeper to nod the ball in. Portugal coasted for most of the rest of the game, and only once or twice did Estonia come anywhere near the Portuguese goal, and that without much danger from dead ball situations. Ten minutes from time, Miguel Garcia made the line on the right and slung over a looping cross that Hugo Almeida rose to meet and head in for his second.
FC Porto are consulting their legal department over any action they might take against the FPF for the injury to Nuno Valente during the weekend's game against Latvia. The club say that they were not informed of the extent of Valente's knee injury when he was returned after being released from the squad.
Felipe Scolari has confirmed that Sporting's Rui Jorge will replace Valente for Wednesday's home game against Estonia in Leiria. He said that there will be no other changes, barring unexpected circumstances, so that the starting lineup is likely to be:
Ricardo, Paulo Ferreira, Ricardo Carvalho, Jorge Andrade, Rui Jorge, Costinha, Maniche, Deco, Simão, Cristiano Ronaldo, Pauleta.
By Tuesday evening, only 25% of the tickets for the game, at the Leiria Municipal stadium, had been sold. Scolari admitted that he was "surprised".
Left back Nuno Valente, who picked up a knee injury during the game against Latvia at the weekend, has been released from national team duty and will recover at his club, FC Porto. Meanwhile, striker Hugo Almeida, also of FC Porto, has been transferred to the U-21 side that plays Estonia Tuesday.
The young woman who streaked onto the pitch during the Latvia game theoretically faces up to two years in prison after being charged with 'hooliganism' by the Latvian authorities. 'Morango', as she is nicknamed, has also come in for a lot of criticism from Latvian fans because their team were holding Portugal until the streak, after which their concentration seemed to collapse.
Portugal won their first World Cup 2006 qualifying game Saturday, beating Latvia 2-0 in Riga. Portugal controlled the game more or less throughout, but lacked incisiveness near goal in the first half. They got their goals in a brief flurry in the second half. On 58 minutes, Cristiano Ronaldo rifled home a loose ball after some confusion in the box, and straight from the subsequent kick-off, Latvia lost the ball, Cristiano Ronaldo took it down the right and crossed for captain Pauleta to dive and head in.
Portugal lined up: Ricardo, Paulo Ferreira, Jorge Andrade, Ricardo Carvalho, Nuno Valente (Caneira, 73), Costinha, Maniche, Deco, Cristiano Ronaldo (Petit, 81), Simão (Boa Morte, 68), Pauleta.
In the other games in Group 3, Slovakia got a good 1-1 draw in Russia and Portugal's opponents on Wednesday in Leiria, Estonia, beat Luxembourg 4-0.
The numbers 7 and 10 have been withdrawn from the Selecção in honour of the contribution made by Luís Figo and Rui Costa, respectively, to the national side's recent history.
Portugal's U-21s won in Latvia Friday in their European Championship qualifier. Klava put the Latvians in front after only two minutes, but an own goal by Roslovs from a free-kick by Quaresma levelled the score on 18. Fifteen minutes from the end, Amoreirinha crashed home a loose ball from a corner to give Portugal the three points, but they still had to endure the final ten minutes without captain and best player on the night Ricardo Quaresma, sent off for a second yellow card for intentional hand ball.
Portugal lined up: Bruno Vale, Miguel Garcia, Amoreirinha, Pedro Ribeiro, Valdir, Custódio, Raul Meireles, João Pereira (Paulo Sérgio, 46 m), Danny (Eliseu, 65 m), Quaresma, Lourenço (Organista,82) .
Miguel, Deco and Cristiano Ronaldo are all fit again ahead of Saturday's 2006 qualifier against Latvia after nursing injuries in recent days. Ronaldo may play, despite the oblections of his club (Manchester United). Questioned by reporters, he said that he was forbidden to talk. And that is had been Manchester United's assistant coach Carlos Queiroz who had ordered his 'no comments'.
Coach Felipe Scolari has named Pauleta and Costinha as his captains, in the absence of Figo, Rui Costa and Fernando Couto.
Portugal have climbed one place in the FIFA rankings, announced Wednesday. The top positions (last in brackets) are:
1. (1) Brazil
2. (2) France
3. (3) Spain
4. (4) Argentina
5. (5) Czech Republic
6. (6) Holland
7. (7) England
8. (8) Mexico
9. (9) Italy
10. (10=) USA
11= (12) Portugal
11= (13) Germany
National coach Luís Felipe Scolari announced his first post-Euro 2004 squad Thursday for the upcoming games against Latvia (Riga, 04/09) and Estonia (Leiria, 08/09). Notable by their absence are Figo, Rui Costa and Fernando Couto, the last of the so-called 'Golden Generation'. In come Marco Caneira of Valência, Luís Boa Morte of Fulham and Hugo Almeida of FC Porto.
The full squad:
Ricardo (Sporting), Quim (Benfica).
Jorge Andrade (Deportivo la Coruña), Miguel (Benfica), Caneira (Valência), Nuno Valente (FC Porto), Paulo Ferreira (Chelsea), Ricardo Carvalho (Chelsea), Rui Jorge (Sporting).
Deco (Barcelona), Petit (Benfica), Costinha (FC Porto), Maniche (FC Porto), Tiago (Chelsea), Simão (Benfica), Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United).
Hélder Postiga (FC Porto), Hugo Almeida (FC Porto), Boa Morte (Fulham), Pauleta (Paris Saint-Germain).
U-21 coach Agostinho Oliveira also named his squad to play against the same countries:
José Castro (Académica), Valdir (Ovarense), Organista (Santa Clara), Daniel (Marco), Bruno Vale, Cristóvão, Pedro Ribeiro, Raul Meireles and Ricardo Quaresma (FC Porto), Eliseu and Lourenço (Belenenses), Amoreirinha, João Pereira and Manuel Fernandes (Benfica), Custódio, Danny, Miguel Garcia and Paulo Sérgio (Sporting), Laranjeiro (U. Leiria) and Paulo Ribeiro (V. Setúbal).
Sporting's Hugo Viana is missing from both squads because of a two-match ban imposed by FIFA following his sending-off against Costa Rica at the Olympics.
National team coach Luís Felipe Scolari will announce his selection for the upcoming games against Latvia (Riga, 04/09) and Estonia (Leiria, 08/09) Thursday at 12.30 local time.He will be without both Figo and Rui Costa, who have stepped down from national team duty.
Luís Figo announced Wednesday that he will stop playing for the Selecção ... but left his decision a little up in the air, not discarding the possibility of returning "if my country needs me".
Portugal's Olympic Team crashed out of the Games Wednesday with another humiliation, this time 2-4 at the hands of theoretically modest Costa Rica. Once again the team showed little sign of cohesion, most of the players happy to try out individual runs which invariably resulted in lost possession. And Portugal's discipline was again found wanting: João Paulo was sent off for a second yellow close to half time, and Hugo Viana saw a direct red for a cynical challenge on the stroke of time. Portugal had been in front twice through Hugo Almeida (28) and Jorge Ribeiro (53), but Villalobos (49) and Fernando Meira with an own goal on 67 put Costa Rica level twice. then in a disastrous last twenty minutes, when Portugal's defence had apparently decided to pack up early and go home, Saborio and Brennes added two more to effectively send Portugal packing.
Portugal lined up:
Moreira, Ricardo Costa, Fernando Meira, João Paulo, Mário Sérgio, Raul Meireles, Carlos Martins, Bosingwa, Carlos Martins, Danny, Hugo Almeida. Plus: Frechaut, Lourenço, Hugo Viana.
Portugal's U-21 team put in a very ordinary performance to draw 0-0 with Malta in Gaia Tuesday.
Portugal's Olympic team made amends for their defeat in the first game by beating Morocco 2-1 in the second in Group D of the Olympic football competition. Cristiano Ronaldo put Portugal in front just before the break, and Ricardo Costa headed them into a two-goal lead on 73 minutes. But this is far from an impressive Portiugal team, and they let Morocco back in it five minutes from time through Ourahoh . Portugal now face Costa Rica in the decisive final group game.
Luís Boa Morte has been suspended for two matches after being sent off in the first one against Iraq.
Luís Figo is to meet with national team coach Felipe Scolari during the coming week to discuss his future with the Selecção. Spanish sports paper Marca reported that Figo will offer to play in the finals of the 2006 World Cup if the team qualify, but that he will decline to play in qualifying games.
The Portuguese Olympic team got off to the worst possible start at the Olympic Games in Athens Thursday. They went in front on 12 minutes against Iraq, Jabar putting through his own goal, but Iraq were level just three minutes later through Emad and Hawar Mohammed gave his side the lead on the half hour. The Portuguese breathed a sigh of releif, at least temporarily, when Bosingwa equalised on the stroke of half time.
But in the second half, the house of cards that was Portugal's resistance to Iraq's poisonous counter-attacking game collapsed, not helped by the expulsion of Fulham's Luís Boa Morte five minutes in. On 56 minutes, Younis Mahmoud put the Iraqis in the lead, and Salih Sadir put the icing on the cake of a deserved victory in the dying minutes, after some more terrible defending by Portugal.
"We didn't get off on the right foot," said coach José Romão. "But we'll carry on believing." Portugal will now have to beat Costa Rica and Morocco to have a reasonable chance of qualifying from Group D.
The teams lined up:
Portugal: Moreira, Frechaut, Bruno Alves, Ricardo Costa, Jorge Ribeiro, Fernando Meira (Carlos Martins, 74 m), Bosingwa (Raul Meireles, 63 m), Hugo Viana (Danny, 60 m), Cristiano Ronaldo, Hugo Almeida, Luís Boa Morte.
Iraq: Nour Sabri, Bassim Abbas, Haidar Jabar, Haidar Razzaq, Haidar Amir, Nashat Akram (Salih Sadir, 71 m), Abdul Wahab, Abu Mohammed (Mahdi Karim, 80 m), Qusai Munir, Emad Mohammed (Ahmed Salah, 76 m), Younis Mahmoud.
Portugal's Olympic team cruised past Paraguay, also in the Olympics, in the Algarve Wednesday. Portugal were two-up at half time, the first on eight minutes through Lourenço, the second on 36, Cristiano Ronaldo back-heeling in a cross from Luís Boa-Morte. Hugo Almeida, Carlos Martins and Danny made it 5-0 in the second half, while Paraguay, apparently feeling humiliated, started to take it out on the Portuguese players and two, Devaca and Martinez, both saw red cards.
Portugal lined up:
Moreira (Bruno Vale), Mário Sérgio (Frechaut), Bruno Alves, Ricardo Costa, Jorge Ribeiro, Fernando Meira (Danny), Bosingwa, Raul Meireles (Carlos Martins), Cristiano Ronaldo (Hugo Viana), Lourenço (Hugo Almeida), Luís Boa Morte.
João Paulo of União de Leiria and Hugo Almeida of FC Porto have replaced the injured Tiago of Chelsea and Hélder Postiga of Porto, respectively, in the Portuguese Olympic squad.
Benfica midfilder Tiago and Porto striker Hélder Postiga have both withdrawn from the Portuguese Olympic squad through injury. It is not yet known who will replace them. The Sporting director Paulo Andrade has called for the FPF to look further into Tiago's injury, claiming that the Portuguese Olympic project may be being dictated to by powerful lobbies, in this case Tiago's new club Chelsea.
The Portuguese Olympic squad met up Sunday in a hotel near the National Stadium on the outskirts of Lisbon before moving to the Algarve for several days prior to flying out to Atthens. There is a doubt over the fitness of Chelsea midfielder Tiago, who has apparently aggravated an old injury that may rule him out of the trip.
U-21 coach José Romão announced Wednesday the 23 players he will take to Greece for the Olympic Games between 11 and 29 August. FC Porto is the club most represented with four, although Sporting also have four if Hugo Viana, on loan from Newcastle, is counted. Fernando Meira, Fréchaut and Boa Morte are the over-age players. The team play a friendly against Paraguay on 7 August and leave for Greece the next day.
BENFICA: Moreira and Tiago
STUTTGART: Fernando Meira
FC PORTO: Bruno Vale, Hélder Postiga, Raul Meireles and Ricardo Costa
FULHAM: Boa Morte
GIL VICENTE: Jorge Ribeiro
MANCHESTER UNITED: Cristiano Ronaldo
NEWCASTLE(SPORTING): Hugo Viana
SPORTING: Carlos Martins, Danny and Mário Sérgio
Reserves: FC PORTO – Hugo Almeida; SPORTING – Beto II and Custódio; U. LEIRIA - João Paulo
The Portuguese Parliament paid tribute Thursday to the Selecção for their feat of reaching the Euro 2004 Final. Coach Felipe Scolari and FPF president Gilberto Madaíl were present.
Rui Costa announced Saturday that the Euro 2004 Final against Greece will be his last game for Portugal. He did not give a reason for his decision, but his recent form has come in for criticism. Costa, 32, has played 93 times for the National Team since his debut on March 31 1993.
Portugal reached the final of a major football competition for the first time in their history Wednesday with a 2-1 win over Holland at the Alvalade stadium in Lisbon. Portugal had most of the first half play and went ahead on 26 minutes with a close range header by an unmarked Cristiano Ronaldo from a corner by Deco. On 57 minutes, Maniche curled a shot past Van der Saar from way out on the left. But five minutes later, Jorge Andrade looped an own goal over Ricardo to give Portugal the jitters. As Holland came back into it, Portugal threw everything into defence and held on for a famous victory.
Portugal lined up:
Portugal: Ricardo, Miguel, Ricardo Carvalho, Jorge Andrade, Nuno Valente, Costinha, Maniche (Fernando Couto, 86 m), Figo, Deco, Cristiano Ronaldo (Petit, 66 m), Pauleta (Nuno Gomes, 74 m).
Portugal have been losing semi-finalists in three majot tournaments: against England in the 1966 World Cup, against France in the 1984 European Championship, and against France again in Euro 2000.
The major towns and cities of Portugal were once again clogged up with jubilant supporters after the game.Lisbon, from the the Marquês de Pombal junction at the top of the city down the Avenida da Liberdade and into Restauradores and Rossio in the centre, supporters crammed the streets and pavements, with traffic cut off.
Coach Felipe Scolari has renewed his contract with the Portuguese Football Federation for an extra two years, taking him up to and including the next World Cup (if Portugal qualify).
Sixteen thousand Portuguese fans are expected at Alvalade for Wednesday's semi-final between Portugal and Holland. There will be 8,500 Dutch fans and the same number of 'neutrals'.
The semi-final between Portugal and Holland (Wednesday at Alvalade) is a sell-out, while the one between Greece and the Czech Republic (Thursday at the Estádio do Dragão) still has tickets available.
Portuguese players are at the top of several of UEFA's statistical charts. Deco is the player who has suffered (22) and committed (19) most fouls. Portugal has the top three of players who have lost the ball most: Deco (47), Figo (46), Cristiano Ronaldo (46). Figo is the top corner-taker with 20, followed by Deco (17). Maniche is the champion of short passes attempted (223) and made (205)
In an electrifying game at the appropriately named Estádio da Luz, Portugal suffered but came through with an immense show of determination to beat a dogged England on penalties.
England were one-up very early on, Costinha misheading a ball into the path of Owen who cut between Ricardo Carvalho and Jorge Andrade, turned and clipped a neat shot over Ricardo. England then sat back and for most of the rest of the game, it was Portugal who did all the running, helped, it must be said, by an injury to Rooney that saw him hobbling off with a broken foot. England were well organised at the back, and Ashley Cole especially had Cristiano Ronaldo in his pocket.
But as against France in the first game, the retreat proved England's undoing, and seven minutes from time, one sub, Simão, crossed for another, Postiga, to head in from close range. In the dying minutes, England thought they'd sealed it when Sol Campbell headed in, but the referee disallowed it for a foul by Terry on the 'keeper Ricardo. And so it went to extra-time.
Five minutes into the second half of extra-time, the third sub, Rui Costa, strode forward confidently with the ball from the halfway line and cracked a superb drive past James from the edge of the box. It looked all over, but England are nothing if not resilient, and five minutes later were on level terms again, Lampard bundling the ball over the line from a corner, with some blame for the Portuguese defence. And so it went to penalties.
David Beckham made a hash of the very fist one, skying it and looking daggers at the spot on the loose turf where his supporting foot had slipped. Rui Costa also skied one later and it was 4-4, so it went to sudden death. Portugal's first in this phase was a cheeky chip from Hélder Postiga that fooled James. Up next was Darius Vassel, and his kick was turned around the post by a gloveless Ricardo. Portugal needed to score the next one to win the game. Keeper Ricardo stepped up and planted a perfect one past his counterpart. Portugal were through.
The teams lined up:
Portugal: Ricardo, Miguel (Rui Costa, 78), Ricardo Carvalho, Jorge Andrade, Nuno Valente, Costinha (Simão, 63), Maniche, Deco, Figo (Hélder Postiga, 75), Cristiano Ronaldo, Nuno Gomes.
England: David James, Gary Neville, Sol Campbell, John Terry, Ashley Cole, Steven Gerrard (Owen Hargreaves, 81), Frank Lampard, David Beckham, Paul Scholes (Phil Neville, 57), Michael Owen, Wayne Rooney (Darius Vassell, 27).
The Portuguese once again went to the streets to celebrate the victory, and the Baixa (City Centre) of Lisbon was closed to traffic to accommodate the thousands of fans thatb flocked there after the game.
In a tense, dramatic last Group game, Portugal beat their eternal rivals Spain for the first time in 23 years to go through to the quarter-finals of Euro 2004, putting their neighbours out. It was never a very pretty game - there was too much at stake - but there were a number of chances at both ends. Spain hit the post and bar, and for Portugal, Maniche, Costinha (twice, one a sitter) and Figo came close. But the all important goal came on 57 minutes from sub Nuno Gomes, on at half-time for Pauleta. He picked the ball up near the edge of the box, had time to turn and his low shot beat the right hand of Casillas in the Spanish goal. The rest of the half was spent clearing lines, although there were still chances falling Portugal's way.
Portugal did what was expected of them and beat Russia 2-0 Wednesday to give themselves a fighting chance of qualification. An early goal from Maniche and a late one from Rui Costa did the trick, but Portugal were helped by the dubious first-half sending off of Russian 'keeper Ovchinikov for handling outside the area, meaning that Russia were down to ten men for half of the game. Portugal must now beat Spain to qualify for the quarter finals.
Felipe Scolari apologised to the Portuguese for the performance and the result that gave Greece their first ever win in a major competition. Portugal were very poor throughout, and they gave Greece the game on a platter. On six minutes, Paulo Ferreira gave the ball away in midfield, Karagounis strode forward unimpeded and struck the ball in from twent-five metres out, Fernando Couto flinching from the block. Six minutes into the second half, Cristiano Ronaldo, on as sub, impetuously brought down Caristeas as he broke into the penalty area, Basinas scoring from the spot. Ronaldo slightly made up for the error with a headed goal in the dying minutes, but it was then too late to do anything about it.
Felipe Scolari revealed Friday what Portugal's starting line-up will be against Greece in the inaugural game Saturday, the main difference from previous teams being the inclusion of FC Porto's midfielder Maniche at the expense of Petit:
Ricardo, Paulo Ferreira, Fernando Couto, Jorge Andrade, Rui Jorge, Costinha, Maniche, Figo, Rui Costa, Simão, Pauleta.
The squad trained Saturday on the pitch of the Estádio do Dragão.
Greek coach Otto Rehhagel said that it's Portugal who are under pressure as they are the home side, and that the Greeks only have to prove that they are worthy qualifiers.
Portugal Captain Fernando Couto recognised that Portugal have left a lot to be desired in the past, but that things have been different recently: "It's true that at the last World Cup were weren't good, but I think we've improved in recent times, and played well in the last few games. Apart from that, this will be a great opportunity do things well in front of our own public and please them."
Portugal's squad was finally complete Thursday with the arrival of goalkeeper Moreira, who has been on U-21 service.
Portugal's U-21s beat Sweden 3-2 after extra time to win third place in the European U-21 Championship held in Germany, a place that gives Portugal access to the Olympic Games in Athens this summer. Portugal will play group games against Costa Rica, Morrocco and Iraq. Portugal's goals were scored by Hugo Viana from the spot, Jorge Ribeiro and Carlitos after good work on the left from Danny
Portugal have dropped two places to 22nd in the FIFA national team rankings, which are headed by Brazil, France and Spain.
Portugal beat Lithuania 4-1 Saturday at a packed Estádio do Bonfim, home of Vitória de Setúbal. Portugal were two-up within 12 minutes. Fernando Couto headed a Figo corner in from close range on three minutes, and Pauleta controlled a Ricardo clearance perfectly and lobbed Stauce from 30 metres on 12. But the team struggled to make inroads for almost the whole of the rest of the game. They gave ground to Lithuania when Beto conceded a penalty on 73 minutes and Venkevicius scored from the spot, and it was only in the last ten minutes that the score became a little more respectable, Nuno Gomes on 80 and Hélder Postiga on the stroke of time adding two more for the Selecção.
The teams lined up:
Portugal: Ricardo, Paulo Ferreira, Jorge Andrade, Fernando Couto, Rui Jorge, Costinha, Petit, Figo, Rui Costa, Simão, Pauleta. (Substitutes: Quim, Miguel, Nuno Valente, Beto, Ricardo Carvalho, Cristiano Ronaldo, Maniche, Tiago, Deco, Nuno Gomes e Hélder Postiga.)
Lithuania: Stauce; Dziauktas, Dedura, Barasa, Venkevicius, Zvirgdauskas, Skarbalius, Deividas Cesnauskis, Edgaras Cesnauskis, Tomas Razanauskas, Poskus. (Substitutes: Karcemarskas, Miculiunas, Reglskis, Tomasauskas, Radzinevicius, Butriravicius, Paravicius.)
Meanwhile, in Germany, Portugal's U-21s were going down to Italy in the semi-final of the European Championship. Portugal's defence let them down early on, falling behind to a goal from Gilardino on 18 minutes and one from Pinzi on 24. Pedro Oliveira pulled one back on 28, and Portugal, to their credit, made Italy work after that. But it was to be Italy's night, and they clinched the result with a second from Gilardino on 76 minutes.
Felipe Scolari led a training session behind closed doors Friday ahead of Saturday's friendly against Lithuania, the last before Euro 2004 proper. FC Porto striker Edgares Jankauskas will not be playing for the Lithuanians because of fatigue.
The President of the Republic, Jorge Sampaio, visited the Selecção at their training centre Thursday. He gave his full support to the squad, but said there should be no pressure put on them.
Portugal's U-21s qualified against all odds for the semi-finals of the European Championship, along with Sweden from the same group, after beating hosts Germany 2-1. In a thrilling, open game, Hugo Almeida was first on the scoresheet,but Schweinsteeiger equalised before half time. Then in a pulsating second half, Sporting's striker Lourenço volleyed home a loose ball on 77 minutes, headed on by Carlitos of Estoril, to give Portugal the win and qualification, leaving Germany and Switzerland by the wayside. But it was at a cost: Raul Meireles, Lourenço and Carlos Martins will all miss the next game on accumulation of yellows.
Portugal's U-20s beat Brazil 1-0 in their first game of the Toulon Tournament. Edson of PSV Eindhoven got the goal five minutes from half-time.
The Selecção left Óbidos Wednesday en route to Alcochete and Sporting's training centre (A Academia), where they will stay for the duration of the Euro 2004 tournament. The mood with respect to Portugal's performance was upbeat, leavened with a little reserve. Luís Figo, standing in for captain Fernando Couto, absent to accompany the birth of his third child, said: "We can't promise the title, but we can guarantee that we're going to work to the limit to put on a good show, to perform in a way that makes all the Portuguese proud."
Paris St Germain striker Pauleta has joined the Portuguese squad after scoring the winning goal in his club's French Cup Final vitory at the weekend.
President of the Republic Jorge Sampaio will visit the Selecção Wednesday.
Portugal's coach, the Brazilian Felipe Scolari, has denied that he has any deal with Befica to join the club after Euro 2004.
Portugal's U-21s drew 2-2 with Switzerland in the European Championship Sunday, leaving their qualification to the next phase dependent on the final group game against Germany Wednesday. In a 15-minute spell in the second half, Portugal were down to a goal by Volanthen and then came back to lead through Carlos Martíns and Hugo Almeida. But Ricardo Costa was sent off on 80 minutes and Switzerland drew level through Baykal on 85, leaving the group up in the air. Portugal must beat Germany on Wednesday to stand any chance of going forward.
Portugal lined up:
Moreira, Miguel Garcia, Ricardo Costa, Bruno Alves, Jorge Ribeiro; Custódio (Carlos Martins 62 m), Bosingwa, Hugo Viana (Carlitos 58 m), Lourenço, Hugo Almeida (Raul Meireles 76 m), Danny.
Portugal won their penultimate preparation game Saturday, beating a pedestrian Luxembourg side 3-0 in Águeda. Figo, Nuno Gomes and Rui Costa got the goals in the first half, but it is slightly worrying that the team, albeit chopped and changed in the second half, could not extend this lead.
Portugal lined up:
Quim, Miguel (Paulo Ferreira), Fernando Couto, Jorge Andrade (Beto), Rui Jorge (Ricardo Carvalho), Petit (Costinha), Tiago (Maniche), Figo (Cristiano Ronaldo), Rui Costa (Deco), Simão, Nuno Gomes (Hélder Postiga)
Portugal's U-21s lost their first game in the European Championship in Germany Friday and seriously compromised their continuation in the competition. They went down 1-3 to Sweden , despite being ahead in the first half through a Hugo Almeida header (from a cross by Mário Sérgio). Man of the match Elmander of Sweden equalised before the break, then put Sweden ahead five minutes into the second half after a terrible pass in midfield from Hugo Viana gave Sweden the break on a platter. Elmander then passed for Ishizaki to curl a shot beyond Moreira and put the game beyond Portugal's reach. Portugal have to do better against Switzerland and Germany in the two remaining group games.
The teams lined up:
Portugal: Moreira, Mário Sérgio, Ricardo Costa, Bruno Alves, Jorge Ribeiro, Raul Meireles, Bosingwa, Carlos Martins (Danny 55), Hugo Viana (Custódio), Hugo Almeida, Lourenço (Carlitos 62).
Sweden: Alvabage, Stenman, Gerband, Antonsson, Dorsin; Holmer, Djuric (Ishizaki), Johansson (Andersson 72), Stefaridis, Elmander (Rosenborg 78), Anderson.
The Selecção, currently installed in Óbidos and still without the six FC Porto players involved in the CL Final, Pauleta, Moreira, Ricardo and Rui Jorge, played a friendly against a team from the Leiria Football Association Thursday and ran out 9-3 winners. Nuno Gomes got four and Cristiano Ronaldo three, two of which for the other side when he was 'lent' to them. Simão, Figo, Hélder Postiga and Rui Almeida (OG) got the others.
The team lined up:
Quim; Miguel, Fernando Couto, Jorge Andrade e Beto; Petit, Tiago, Simão e Figo; Cristiano Ronaldo e Hélder Postiga.
First-choice 'keeper Ricardo of Sporting injured a foot in training Tuesday and will be out of action for a couple of days, although he is expected to recover fully.
Portugal's U-21s are in germany preparing for the European Championships at that level.They play Sweden on Friday in the first game.
Only half the Selecção have reported for duty as the the other half have been or are still involved in club competitions. Those that reported have been undergoing medical and fitness tests, so far without any hiccups.
Meanwhile, numbers were allocated to the 23 squad members Saturday, thus:
1. Ricardo (Sporting)
2. Paulo Ferreira (FC Porto)
3. Rui Jorge (Sporting)
4. Jorge Andrade (Dep. Coruña)
5. Fernando Couto (Lázio)
6. Costinha (FC Porto)
7. Luís Figo (Real Madrid)
8. Petit (Benfica)
9. Pauleta (PSG)
10. Rui Costa (AC Milan)
11. Simão Sabrosa (Benfica)
12. Quim (Sporting Braga)
13. Miguel (Benfica)
14. Nuno Valente (FC Porto)
15. Beto (Sporting)
16. Ricardo Carvalho (FC Porto)
17. Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United)
18. Maniche (FC Porto)
19. Tiago (Benfica)
20. Deco (FC Porto)
21. Nuno Gomes (Benfica)
22. Moreira (Benfica)
23. Hélder Postiga (Tottenham)
Portugal's U-21 team thrashed Ghana 6-1 in their last game before they set off for the Eurpean Championship in Germany. Lourenço scored two in the first half, and in the second Ghana put two through their own goal and Carlitos and Carlos Martins got the other two.
Meanwhile, the U-19s lost 0-1 to Germany and failed to qualify for the European Championship, after also losing to Slovakia in the qualifying mini-tournament in Slovakia.
Luís Felipe Scolari named his squad of 23 players for the Euro 2004 tournament Tuesday. There were several surprise inclusions and some confirmations of absences. Scolari had used 36 players in his time as National Team Coach.
There had been speculation that FC Porto's Vítor Baía, having a good season with his club but seemingly out of favour with Scoalri, might get the call, but it was not to be. Surprisingly, the third 'keeper (after Quim and Ricardo) is Benfica's Moreira, who was also called up for the U-21 European Championship and will join the 'A' team directly afterwards.
The defenders are as expected, meaning that Rui Jorge is in after a doping scare, but central defender Fernando Meira of Stuttgart is left out.
In midfield, FC Porto's Maniche, superb in his club's European exploits, is back in after a marked absence. Scolari suggested that he had left the player out for disciplinary reasons but hoped that he would be able to contribute to the Selecção what he does to his club. Luís Boa Morte of Fulham, an almost ever-present in call-ups until now, was strangely left out, probably because of duplication of roles in the squad.
Up front, the only minor surprise was the inclusion of Tottenham's Hélder Postiga, who has not had a totally satisfactory season with the London club.
The full squad:
Ricardo (Sporting), Quim (Sp. Braga), Moreira (Benfica)
Paulo Ferreira (FC Porto), Miguel (Benfica), Ricardo Carvalho (FC Porto), Fernando Couto (Lazio), Beto (Sporting), Jorge Andrade (D. Corunha), Rui Jorge (Sporting), Nuno Valente (FC Porto)
Petit (Benfica), Costinha (FC Porto), Tiago (Benfica), Maniche (FC Porto),Rui Costa (AC Milan), Deco (FC Porto), Cristiano Ronaldo (Man. United), Figo (Real Madrid), Simão (Benfica)
Pauleta (PSG), Nuno Gomes (Benfica), Hélder Postiga (Tottenham)
The Portuguese Football Federation formally signed the contract with Nike Monday that will mean that the multinational will continue to supply the National Team with kits, etc. for the next four years. Negotiations to renew the contract, which began in 1996 , took one and a half years.
Portugal's U-21 squad that will compete in the U-21 Euro tournament looks like this:
Goalkeepers: Moreira (Benfica), Bruno Vale (FC Porto), Beto (Sporting).
Defenders: Pedro Ribeiro, Ricardo Costa (FC Porto), Mário Sérgio, Miguel Garcia (Sporting), João Paulo (União de Leiria), Jorge Ribeiro (Varzim), Bruno Alves (Guimarães).
Midfielders: Bruno Aguiar (Alverca), Raúl Meireles (Boavista), Bosingwa (FC Porto), Danny (Marítimo), Hugo Viana (Newcastle, Ing), Carlos Martins and Custódio (Sporting).
Forwards: Carlitos (Estoril), Pedro Oliveira (Leixões), João Pereira (Benfica), Lourenço (Sporting), Hugo Almeida (União de Leiria).
Hugo Viana and Moreira are the only ones that might feel like they could have made the full squad.
Felipe Scolari has reiterated his conviction that his selection of the squad for Euro 2004 will not be influenced from outside. "I'm the one in charge and who makes the choices," he said Saturday, in response to a suggestion from Federation vice-president José Cavaco that Scolari listen to public opinion. The squad will be announced on Tuesday.
Win bonuses for the Portuguese players have been agreed. It has been reported that each player will receive 200,000 euros if Portugal are crowned champions.
Portugal have dropped to 20th in the FIFA rankings. The top three are Brazil, France and Spain.
Portugal under-achieved again Wednesday and barely came out of their friendly against Sweden, 2-2, with any pride at all. Portugal were bright in the first quarter of an hour, Rui Costa, Pauleta and especially Figo (man of the match) all looking on song. But organisation and build-up were lacking, and Sweden began to control midfield, although they, too, were lacking in objectivity up-front. But it only took 16 minutes for the Swedes to go in front, Kallstrom firing a free-kick goalwards from distance and Ricardo appearing to duck out of the way as it swung towards him, the ball striking him on the shoulder and flying into the roof of the net. Ten minutes later, Figo had the chance to pull level when he was brought down in the area, but his spot kick was weak and easily saved by Isaksson. Then on the half-hour, Rui Costa mis-hit a shot from the edge of the box and the ball squirmed forward for Pauleta to stride through and strike cleanly home.
The second half was a confused affair, not helped by the disruption of multiple substitutions on both sides. It wasn't until five minutes from time that the scoreboard changed, Wilhelmson making it to the line and crossing low, only for Rui Jorge, under no pressure but deceived by a deflection from 'keeper Quim, to turn the ball into his own net. Then, just as the meagre 14,000 in the stands were preparing their white handkerchiefs to wave as a sign of their dissatisfaction at a poor display, Nuno Gomes thundered in in added time to head home a corner from the right by Cristiano Ronaldo.
But the 2-2 result flatters to deceive - Portugal will have to do a lot better than this to get anywhere in the summer. And they are yet to win against any of the teams they have played that will be present in Portugal come June.
The teams lined up:
Portugal: Ricardo (Quim, 46 m), Miguel (Hélder Postiga, 74 m), Jorge Andrade, Fernando Couto, Rui Jorge, Petit (Fernando Meira, 65 m), Tiago (Frechaut, 46 m); Figo (Boa Morte, 62 m), Rui Costa (Hugo Viana, 65 m), Simão (Cristiano Ronaldo, 62 m), Pauleta (Nuno Gomes, 62 m).
Sweden: Isaksson (Hedman, 46 m), Wahlstedt, Mjallby (Hansson, 51 m), Mellberg (Edman, 46 m), Lucic (Jakobsson, 46 m), Linderoth (Andersson, 71 m), Johansson (Svensson, 61 m), Kallstrom, Wilhelmsson, Allback (Skoog, 46 m), Ibrahimovic (Elmander, 62 m).
Response to Felipe Scolari's dismissal of FC Porto players for the friendly with Sweden has had a mixed reception. While most recognise that it's important for Portugal that Porto get as far as possible in the Champions League, others see the absence of key players like Deco, Costinha, Paulo Ferreira and Ricardo Carvalho as devaluing the importance of the game as preparation for the Euro 2004 proper. Luís Figo added his voice to those against the decision: "We all have important commitments. I've had them in the past, but I've always been with the the national team."
The Selecção trained in Coimbra Tuesday ahead of the game, and if it was anything to go by, the team for Wednesday's game should look like this: Ricardo, Miguel, Jorge Andrade, Fernando Couto, Rui Jorge, Tiago, Petit, Figo, Rui Costa, Simão, Pauleta
Felipe Scolari has spared FC Porto's internationals in his latest call-up, for the game against Sweden in Coimbra next Wednesday. Recalled are Stuttgart's Fernando Meira, Newcastle's Hugo Viana and Boavista's Fréchaut.
Goalkeepers: Ricardo (Sporting), Quim (Sporting de Braga).
Defenders: Fernando Couto (Lázio), Jorge Andrade (Deportivo Coruña), Miguel (Benfica), Beto and Rui Jorge (Sporting), Fernando Meira (Stuttgart).
Midfielders: Petit and Tiago (Benfica), Rui Costa (AC Milan), Hugo Viana (Newcastle), Fréchaut (Boavista).
Forwards: Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United), Luís Boa Morte (Fulham), Figo (Real Madrid), Pauleta (Paris Saint-Germain), Hélder Postiga (Tottenham), Nuno Gomes and Simão (Benfica).
Scolari made a reference to the sending-off of Jorge Andrade in Wednesday's CL semi-final match between FC Porto and Deportivo: "This is yet another situation that we in Portugal have to learn about - enough of joking about - we have to put an end to stupidity ... In the game against Italy we gave the ball away, turned our backs, let things happen ..."
Felipe Scolari was the subject of a cruel April Fool's joke in at least two Portuguese papers Thursday. Sports daily A Bola and tabloid Correio da Manhã both reported that Scolari was to leave his job as coach of the National Team because of indifferent results and, according to the tabloid, because he was owed six-months' salary. While most in Portugal got the joke (which was, in truth, a bit near the mark - the aftershocks from the poor display against Italy are still being felt), in Brazil the 'news' was met with some consternation, and the two papers were flooded with calls and e-mails seeking confirmation.
Influential FC Porto president Jorge Nuno Pinto da Costa was at the front of a queue of people wanting to vent their anger and frustration following Wednesday's result and performance and a perceived lack of direction in the organisation of Portugal's preparations for the summer. He didn't mince his words: "As a citizen, I'm very concerned. I'm not against the Seleccionador, I'm against whoever is keeping him in the post [FPF president Gilberto Madaíl], and I am of course dissatisfied with what's going on. Naturally, what concerns me most are not the bad results, although they're worrying; it's not the bad performances, which are frustrating; it's not some of the options, which are uncomprehensible; it's the fact that in a very short time, that exceptional empathy that existed between the Portuguese and the Selecção has been destroyed."
" ... It seems that everyone is frightened of talking about the Seleccionador and criticising what needs to be criticised. What if the Seleccionador were Portuguese and took the same decisions and had the same behaviour? There's no doubt that the whole world would have been on his back ... We have to swallow what's foreign and with the connivance of a lot of people. This is getting worse and worse."
Reinaldo Telles, vice-president at FC Porto, took a similar line: "This is not the way that Scolari's going to get there. If I remember rightly, he's never been in our stadium to watch FC Porto, and this season we've played some great games. If everyone is unanimous in saying that FC Porto has a great team, it's because we have great players, and it's difficult to understand why some of them don't get in the Selecção [notably Baía and Maniche] ... It's not with games like against Italy that Portugal can have any aspirations. As a Portuguese, I feel very sad."
Porto's assistant coach André spoke of the organisation of the Selecção's football: "Our players that play for the Selecção get tired more than in our games. Costinha, for example, ran so much that you felt sorry for him. In an organised team, players get less tired. You can see that in the Selecção the organisation isn't good and the players get tired because they're running all over the place."
Portugal lost 1-2 at home to Italy Wednesday at a rain-soaked, half-full Estádio Municipal de Braga. Nuno Valente put Portugal in front, Vieri equalised (both in the first half) and sub Miccoli scored directly from a corner in the second half to give gli Azzurri a well-deserved win. (see match report).
The Portugal squad for Wednesday's friendly against Italy in Braga is the following:
Goalkeepers: Ricardo (Sporting), Quim (Sporting Braga)
Defenders: Fernando Couto (Lázio), Jorge Andrade (Deportivo Corunha), Miguel (Benfica), Nuno Valente, Paulo Ferreira and Ricardo Carvalho (FC Porto), Beto and Rui Jorge (Sporting).
Midfielders: Costinha and Deco (FC Porto), Petit and Tiago (Benfica), Rui Costa (AC Milan).
Forwards: Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United), Luís Boa Morte (Fulham), Figo (Real Madrid), Pauleta (Paris Saint-Germain), Hélder Postiga (Tottenham), Nuno Gomes and Simão (Benfica).
The Portuguese Football Federation is apparently going to have to go through the French courts for having refused to let their U-21 players take a doping test after the play-off for qualification for this summer's U-21 European Championship in Clermont- Ferrand, France on November 18th.
João Pinto has spoken for the first time about the incident in the 2002 World Cup in which he was sent off for allegedly puching the referee Angel Sanchez in the game against South Korea. He told cable channel SportTV: "I regret it ... but I can't say it was an aggression." He has not been called up since, although his official suspension is long over. But he has never been told whether he has been handed an under-the-table lifetime ban: "I'd like them to tell me, if it's the case, that I can't play for the Selecção again. This hurts me." But he said that he didn't want his case to disrupt Portuguese preparations for Euro 2004: "I want what all Portuguese want ..."
Portugal drew 1-1 with England in the Estádio do Algarve Wednesday, yet another preparation game for the Portuguese ahead of the summer. Portugal dominated the first half in terms of approach, with Figo, Rui Costa and Petit at the forefront, but David James in the England goal was rarely worried, whereas Rooney and Owen at the other end were a constant danger on the break; 'keeper Ricardo was always up to the challenge, however.
The second half had barely got under way before Portugal were 0-1 down; a looping free-kick from Beckham out deep on the right was heading for the (excellent) King at the back post but was intercepted by sub Miguel , who could only turn it into his own net. But Portugal, with Deco on now and proving a stronger influence than Rui Costa, didn't throw in the towel and came back with a superbly executed free-kick from Pauleta (his 28th international goal) that curled into the top left-hand corner, that on 70 minutes. The rest of the game was disrupted frequently by substitutions, and with the broken rhythm, the result in the end seemed to be a fair one.
National coach Felipe Scolari said that he was "neither excited nor disappointed" by the game and the result.
The teams lined up:
Portugal: Ricardo, Paulo Ferreira, Jorge Andrade, Fernando Couto, Rui Jorge, Petit, Costinha, Figo, Rui Costa, Simão, Pauleta. (Plus: Miguel, Beto, Ricardo Carvalho, Nuno Valente, Tiago, Hugo Viana, Deco, Cristiano Ronaldo, Boa Morte and Hugo Almeida).
England: David James, Phil Neville, Southgate, Ledley King, Ashley Cole (Bridge, 17 m), Beckham, Butt, Scholes, Lampard, Rooney, Owen.(Plus: Mills, Carragher, Hargreaves, Dyer, Jenas, Joe Cole, Heskey, Alan Smith).
Portugal's U-21s beat their Swedish counterparts 4-1 Tuesday in a preparation game for May's European Championship in Germany. Raul Meireles (Boavista) and Carlos Martins (Sporting) with three goals gave Portugal the result. Farnerud gave Sweden some kink of consolation a minute from half-time with a penalty, but the score didn't change after that.
Luís Figo should now be fit for the game against England Wednesday, his 100th appearance for the Equipa das Quinas. His début at full international level was on October 12th, 1991 against Luxembourg.
Sports daily A Bola suggests the following starting line-ups:
Portugal: Ricardo; Paulo Ferreira, Fernando Couto, Jorge Andrade and Rui Jorge; Costinha and Petit; Luís Figo, Rui Costa and Simão; Pauleta.
Coach: Luiz Felipe Scolari (Brazil).
England: David James; Jamie Carragher (or Phil Neville), Ledley King, Gareth Southgate and Ashley Cole; Nicky Butt, Paul Scholes, David Beckham and Frank Lampard; Wayne Rooney and Michael Owen.
Coach: Sven-Goran Eriksson (Sweden).
Luís Figo and Luís Boa Morte both appeared at national team training with slight injuries Monday ahead of Wednesday's friendly with England in the Algarve. Figo had a thigh strain, Boa Morte a groin strain.
Members of the team modeled the new strips that will be used at Euro 2004. Designed by Nike, the red is lighter than the previous strip, and the kit is several grams lighter on the body.
Felipe Scolari has chosen his 22-man squad for next Wednesday's friendly against England. The main suprise is the inclusion of FC Porto's young striker Hugo Almeida, recently loaned out to União de Leiria, and other mild suprises are the contining absences of Stuttgart's Fernando Meira and FC Porto's consistent midfielder Maniche. However, FC Porto is the club with most representatives: five.Benfica have four and Sporting three.
Scolari announced the squad on Thursday, exactly one year to the day that he started the job as national team coach. The squad is widely seen as being essentially the one Scolari will use in the summer ("I have 80 or 90% sorted out"), although he admitted that he " could change three before the tournament" :
Goalkeepers: Ricardo (Sporting), Quim (Sporting Braga)
Defenders: Nuno Valente, Paulo Ferreira, Ricardo Carvalho (FC Porto), Miguel (Benfica), Beto, Rui Jorge (Sporting), Fernando Couto (Lázio), Jorge Andrade (Dep. Coruña)
Midfielders: Costinha, Deco (FC Porto), Petit, Tiago (Benfica), Hugo Viana (Newcastle United), Rui Costa (AC Milan)
Forwards: Simão (Benfica), Boa Morte (Fulham), Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United), Figo (Real Madrid), Hugo Almeida (União de Leiria), Pauleta (Bordeaux)
Spare tickets for Wednesday's match, ones which were reserved but not claimed, will go on sale on Monday at the Estádio do Algarve.
Portugal's Congolese-born stiker Makukula of Valladolid will be out for six months with a knee injury picked up in a league match against Málaga. He will miss the European U-21 Championship to be held in Germany in May and June.
The Hungarian Viktor Kasai will referee the Portugal v England friendly, to be played at the Estádio do Algarve on February 18th, kick-off 21.15.
Portugal U-20s drew 0-0 with Alverca Wednesday as part of a routine get-together for the side. A minute's silence was observed for Miklós Fehér before kick-off.
The Portuguese Football Federation has paid its French counterparts 3,500 euros to cover the damage done to the changing-room by the Portuguese U-21 team at the Clermont-Ferrand stadium following their triumphant qualification for the U-21 European Championship, to be held in Germany. In their euphoria at winning the game on penalties, the players practically destroyed the changing room. FPF president Gilberto Madaíl said that the cost would be divided between the players.
The draw for the U-21 European Championship will take place on February 11th in Frankfurt. The competition begins on May 27th with the final on June 8th. Apart from Portugal, the other teams are: Croatia, Italy, Germany, Bielorussia, Serbia-Montenegro, Sweden and Switzerland.
Portugal's U-21s (Selecção 'B') won the so-called Torneio Internacional Vale do Tejo Thursday, beating Slovakia 2-1. Hugo Almeida and Pedro Oliveira scored in the second half to off-set the opener from Zofcak five minutes before the break.
It took six hours for the Portuguese footballing authorities to hammer out the fixture list for Group 3 of the qualifiers for the 2006 World Cup. The discussions, held in Moscow, left Portugal beginning and ending their campaign against Latvia (away first, home last). The other teams in the group are Russia, Slovakia, Liechtenstein and Luxembourg (see fixtures)
Portugal's 'B' Team beat Albania 2-0 Tuesday in their first outing in the Tagus Valley Tournament (the other two teams are Slovakia and Bielorussia). In-form midfielder Danny of Marítimo (loaned out by Sporting) got the first on four minutes, and striker Lourenço, also of Sporting, got the winner two minutes into the second half.
Italy will travel to Portugal for a preparation friendly before Euro 2004, the Italian Football Federation announced Wednesday. The date of the game is March 31st, venue to be announced (although Braga is a possibility). Portugal played Italy a year ago, in February 2003, and lost 1-0 in Genoa in Felipe Scolari's first game as coach.