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Deco hopes England still below par against Portugal
Karen Iley | July 01, 2006 15:04 IST
"Sometimes I think people in England ask too much of the national team," Deco told a news conference. "The only thing I hope is at this match they are not at their best."
Sven-Goran Eriksson's men have failed to live up to expectations so far, and need to up the ante if they are to overcome Portugal who showed a new fighting spirit in their hard-fought win over the Netherlands in the second round.
Playmaker Deco, one of four players sent off in that 1-0 win, laughed when asked if he would pay money to see an England team who were accused of boring Ecuador into submission in their 1-0 knockout game.
"Even though they are not performing the best they can with their big players, the results show they are doing a good job," he said. "Yes, I would pay to see England, but I would prefer to see Portugal."
However, Deco stopped short of comparing England striker Wayne Rooney [Images] to Brazilian World Cup winner Pele.
"No-one can be compared to Pele," he said.
"Rooney is a youngster with a lot of talent but to compare him with Pele is a lot. He has quality, he scores goals, but he is still young and still has many things to do in football."
Deco was sent off for a second yellow card in Sunday's brutal 1-0 win over the Dutch, and although the Portuguese Football Federation threatened to appeal the decision, the card and the suspension stand.
That leaves Portugal, who also had midfield hardman Costinha dismissed, weakened in midfield.
But Luiz Felipe Scolari's side have been without Deco and Costinha before, in their final Group D game against Mexico in which they also left Cristiano Ronaldo [Images], Pauleta and Nuno Valente on the bench.
They beat the Mexicans 2-1 in what was possibly their best display of football in the tournament so far.
"We have players with a lot of quality, as we proved in the game against Mexico where the substitutes played wonderfully. Whoever plays in our place will do the same job," Deco said.
"Without doubt I wanted to play (against England). It's sad to be out of this game but more important now is that the players who replace me and Costinha train well and have a good game so that Portugal progress to the semi-finals," he added.