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Last Updated: Tuesday, 29 June, 2004, 14:16 GMT 15:16 UK
Figo rejects Beckham claim
By Phil McNulty
Our man with England

Portugal captain Luis Figo tussles with England rival and Real Madrid team-mate David Beckham during the Euro 2004 quarter-final between their two sides
Luis Figo has rejected claims by Real Madrid team-mate David Beckham that a lack of training has left the club's stars struggling for fitness.

Beckham suggested a shortage of conditioning work with Real last season contributed to his poor performances in England's Euro 2004 campaign.

"I don't agree with what David said," Portugal captain Figo told BBC Sport.

"And I think this year we did the work we could, especially playing three times a week."

Figo added: "I feel fit. It was difficult to train more, although you always feel you can be better.

"Physically, at this moment you are obviously not the same as you were at the start of the season, but we have been playing for many weeks now."

Portugal coach Luiz Felipe Scolari, meanwhile, has warned Swedish referee Anders Frisk to watch out for dirty tricks by Holland in Wednesday's semi-final in Lisbon.

Scolari also made a plea to Portugal's fans to wear national colours at the Alvalade Stadium to counter the orange-clad Dutch fans.

I am going to back my team to win because there will be two teams out there going all out for the win - I know my team so I must back them
Portugal manager Luiz Felipe Scolari

He said: "We have to be careful in certain situations. When Michael Reiziger takes throw-ins he sometimes gets his foot off the ground, so the referee has to be very attentive.

"And Ruud van Nistelrooy sometimes starts from an offside position at free-kicks and gets an advantage, so we have to be very careful - and so does the referee."

Scolari also warned against over-expectation from a country now in the grip of Euro 2004 fever.

He said: "We haven't won anything. We are happy with what we've done, but we can only think about Holland.

"I am certainly not going to discuss what I think are the weaknesses of Holland.

"I am stunned when people who are not coaches talk about the weaknesses of my team, so I am certainly not going to do it with other teams.

"I am going to back my team to win because there will be two teams out there going all out for the win - I know my team so I must back them.

"I am not going to think we are favourites. I promised the Portuguese people we would try to get to the semi-finals and my players have helped me fulfil that promise.

"There will be two excellent teams out there in Lisbon, and I trust my players - but even if we lose I will still stand by them and support them."

And the flamboyant Scolari made one last plea to the Portugal fans ahead of one of the biggest games in their history.

He said: "I ask all the Portuguese fans to wear something red or green at the match because we want to face up to those orange shirts of Holland that will be in the crowd."





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