England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson has hinted that he believes his team can overcome hosts Portugal in Thursday’s showpiece quarter-final at the Estadio da Luz.
Eriksson claimed that he thinks England deserve their standing as one of the tournament favourites after their performances in the group stage, and that they will not be afraid of facing the hosts in front of a capacity crowd in Lisbon.
Playing down the significance of Portugal’s home advantage, Eriksson said on Wednesday that he was happy with his side’s play so far, despite some worries over their defending of set pieces.
“It will be like being at home for us in a way on Thursday night, because we have so many fans here in Portugal. The atmosphere at all of our games so far has been magnificent,” said the Swede.
“I’ve always said that if we play the way we know we can play, then we’re not easy to beat,” he continued.
“We played very good football against France and Croatia.”
England have thus far only conceded goals from set pieces and, whilst praising his players, it was clear that Eriksson realises the need for improvements in defence for the match with Luiz Felipe Scolari’s Portugal.
“I’m really happy with what we’ve done so far in the tournament, the only thing we need to improve on is our defending,” he said.
We have only conceded goals from set plays, so we will try to do it better on Thursday.”
Eriksson also took the opportunity to look towards the future, hinting that the depth of his squad would also serve England well in the 2006 World Cup.
“If you look two years ahead, it could be more or less the same squad – hopefully we will unearth another Wayne Rooney, but I think 90% of the squad will be the same in the World Cup, if we qualify,” he revealed.