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THE HUGHTON VIEW

Posted on 30 June 2006  - 12:00

Chris Hughton assesses the World Cup challenge faced by England on Saturday from Portugal...

Chris Hughton assesses the World Cup challenge faced by England on Saturday from Portugal...

FIRST OF ALL, from England's point of view, the absence of Deco and Costinha is a big plus - particular Deco, who is one of their most important players.

Portugal are certainly a good offensive team with good players, but Deco is in some ways in the same mould as Figo, but maybe without the ability to go past players. He is a big, big player for them and him not being there will be a big advantage for England.

With Costinha, he is a player for a specific role, but they have the ability to bring in someone to cover that position in midfield.

England will have to play better than they have done to win the game. People are right to point out that England are through the last eight and in many ways they have done it without being at their best, which is often not a bad thing.

They will have to step it up and I think they will do. Portugal have a particular style, which is good retention of the ball, good passing with gifted players in the forward areas. I feel they are out of a similar mould to Brazil, a good footballing side who will bring the best out of England.

I think England have been successful in some areas, they have looked fairly solid as a team. Where they haven't produced as many would have liked would be in general offensive play and creating and scoring goals.

I suspect they will keep the same shape with one up front in Rooney and the big question will be who they keep in central midfield - Michael or Owen Hargreaves. Much will depend on whether Neville is fully fit to take up the right back position.

Playing five in midfield against Portugal will probably be no bad thing. Playing a side that is so comfortable in possession, smothering them in midfield will help.

England will win, I feel. It will be a tight game, I feel Portugal are capable of and will score, but England will win 2-1.

CHRIS' SEMI-FINAL SELECTIONS: England, Germany, Italy, Brazil.