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The BBC's Mike Ingham
"The side which played Brazil was the blueprint for this game"
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England goalkeeping coach Ray Clemence
"The injection wasn't just done to get Alan to play for England"
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Sunday, 11 June, 2000, 17:08 GMT 18:08 UK
Keegan focusing on England's strengths
Shearer, Mcmanaman, Ince
Shearer, McManaman and Ince in training for England
Kevin Keegan wants England to concentrate on their own strengths as well as on how to stop the likes of Luis Figo starring for Portugal when the two sides meet in Eindhoven on Monday.

While it seems Keegan will use something of a safety-first strategy in the hope of a solid start to England's Euro 2000 campaign, he remains keen to adopt an attacking approach.

He observed: "In the games that we've seen, Portugal have played with two wide guys and just one up.
Portugal v England
Portugal have won two of the 17 previous meetings, with England triumphant nine times
The first meeting saw a 10-0 win for England in 1947
England were 2-1 winners in the 1966 World Cup semi-final at Wembley
The last competitive match saw Portugal triumph 1-0 during the 1986 World Cup in Mexico

"So if you get our full-backs pushed on, we're almost buying two at the back against one. In theory, that could get our creative players a bit more forward.

"With some of the players we've got, we need to be playing in their half a lot more.

Keegan's line-up is expected to be similar to the side which drew with Brazil at Wembley, both in terms of formation and personnel.

The one area which remains slightly uncertain is who will play on the left of midfield, the choice between Dennis Wise, Steve McManaman and Nick Barmby depending on Keegan's desired balance between defence and attack.

Keegan did admit England would have to pay close attention to Luis Figo - but emphasised the Barcelona star was only one of many potential matchwinners in the Portugal side.

With some of the players we've got, we need to be playing in their half a lot more

Kevin Keegan

"He is an outstanding player. I suppose he is the one that everyone talks about, he's a David Beckham, and in Eindhoven, you'll see the two finest number sevens in world football.

"We respect him, but if we give just one player special attention, we'd be doing some of the other players a disservice."

Ray Clemence meanwhile revealed England's players are itching to get their Euro 2000 campaign underway.

Speaking from the squad's base in Spa, England's goalkeeping coach said: "They cannot wait for the games to start now.

"The atmosphere is very relaxed, and I think anybody who has been down to the training ground can see how much the players are enjoying everything.

Positive feeling

"Everybody has said we want success to be going all the way this time, not just the quarter-final or the semi-final, and that is the positive feeling inside the squad."
Kevin Keegan
Kevin Keegan doesn't want England to sit back

"It's just a case now of getting to Eindhoven and really focusing on the job in hand."

Alan Shearer looks certain to be among the starters, after his injured knee responded well to an anti-inflammatory injection.

Influential Portuguese midfielder Paulo Sousa has lost his own battle with injury and has been ruled out of the opening match with a thigh strain.

Sporting Lisbon's Jose Luis Vidigal, a no-nonsense midfield battler, is Sousa's most likely replacement.

Striker Sa Pinto is battling to overcome a knee problem, and his absence would severely limit Portugal's attacking options, with Pauleta serving out a suspension from the qualifiers.

Despite these problems, Benfica striker Joao Pinto said: "Euro 2000 is our chance to show the world we really are a golden generation."
Abel Xavier
Xavier hails Portgual's fantasy football

Many of the Portuguese side were part of the teams which won two World Championships at youth level but coach Coelho insisted: "We're not looking at the past.

"We're looking to the present and right now I think we can beat anyone."

The Portuguese player who knows the English game best is Everton defender Abel Xavier.

He said: "England may be stronger than us physically... they play in a different way, more rigid, more tactical, but I think we can open them up with our fantasy football."

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See also:

10 Jun 00 | England
FA clear up Shearer confusion
11 Jun 00 | Portugal
Sousa out of England clash
11 Jun 00 | England
Karembeu backs McManaman to star
10 Jun 00 | Portugal
Eusebio praises Shearer
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