Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

'Big Phil' Lacks Support Team - EURO 2004; Brazilian Coach's Disciplinarian Style Has Yet to Convince the Portuguese Public

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

'Big Phil' Lacks Support Team - EURO 2004; Brazilian Coach's Disciplinarian Style Has Yet to Convince the Portuguese Public

Article excerpt

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European Championship record

Qualified 1960, 64, 84, 96, 2000

Best achievement SF, 1984, 2000

HOPES are high for the host nation, despite the fact they have not played a competitive match for two years.

It has been a long wait for Portuguese fans, who are desperate to erase memories of their embarrassing exit from the 2002 World Cup.

Defeats against the United States and South Korea saw them crash out in the opening phase, which cost coach Antonio Oliveira his job.

The post is now held by Luiz Felipe Scolari, who inspired Brazil to glory in the same tournament.

A disciplinarian, 'Big Phil' is known for hardworking rather than flamboyant teams, and some disappointing friendly performances have so far failed to convince the Portuguese public.

He will be under huge pressure to deliver when it really matters.

Although Portugal's talent pool does not match that of Brazil, Scolari is fortunate enough to have another player named Ronaldo in his ranks.

Cristiano Ronaldo is one of the Premiership's most improved performers and, having starred in the FA Cup Final, the Manchester United winger has already shown the maturity required to handle the big stage.

The added presence of Luis Figo and Rui Costa ensures that Scolari will have no shortage of creativity, while Nuno Gomes and Pauleta are capable goalscorers.

Their problems could come in defence. Centre-backs Jorge Andrade and Fernando Couto are capable defenders but would not be considered among the strongest centre-back pairings in the competition.

Scolari tends to give them plenty of protection, with Porto's Costinha and Benfica's Petit - both natural ball-winners - playing holding roles.

One notable omission from the squad is veteran goalkeeper Vitor Baia. He has been outstanding for Porto this season and was an influential figure in the dressing room during the World Cup campaign.

Baia's place has gone to Sporting Lisbon keeper Ricardo, who is known as a specialist at saving penalties - a talent which could be called upon in the latter stages.

Portuguese football is on the crest of a wave following Porto's success in last season's UEFA Cup and this year's Champions League. …

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