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MURPHY SUSPECTS

Posted on 28 June 2006  - 12:00

Danny Murphy believes England will be stronger in what should be a testing encounter against Portugal on Saturday.

Danny Murphy believes England will be stronger in what should be a testing encounter against Portugal on Saturday.

The midfielder suspects the performances of the side have been affected by the limited ambition of the teams England have come up against so far who, with the exception of Sweden in the second half, have left the defence largely untroubled and packed numbers behind the ball in order to thwart attacking intent.

It has led to a fair degree of criticism of the displays in reaching the last eight stage, where they will now take on the team managed by Luiz Felipe Scolari's - who has got the better of England with Brazil in 2002 and Portugal in 2004.

"It can be difficult to shine against teams who put a lot of men behind the ball because you have to break them down," considered former England international Danny. "I think England will benefit from playing against a team that maybe comes at them a bit more, opens up and gives some space to exploit by our midfield runners.

"I'd rather still be in the tournament and playing badly, than lost having played well as has happened in the past," added Danny, who feels England possess the personnel suited to the big occasion.

"You've got a situation where the players in the England team are mostly big game players, who tend to perform in the bigger games. There is no fear of the big games and the better the opposition the better England tend to play.

"Things seem to be clicking into place too in terms of external factors. Such as, Portugal having two players sent off, the draw we had and then coming up against Ecuador in the second round. It just seems to be falling into place and you get the feeling that it could be our year.

"Like everyone else, I still think we've got a great chance - we are two games away from the final and Portugal are beatable."