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Blatter criticism riles England

Written by: Staff

BUHLERTAL, Germany, June 29 (Reuters) Piqued England players dismissed criticism today from FIFA chief Sepp Blatter for a lack of attacking football at the World Cup.

Unimpressed by England's 1-0 win over Ecuador to secure a quarter-final with Portugal on Saturday, Blatter told Berlin daily Tagesspiegel: ''I'm pleased that very attacking football is being played.

''The English are an exception, they played in the second round with one striker. That's not the sort of attacking football you expect from a team that aspires to the title.'' The comments did not go down well with the England camp.

Experienced defender Gary Neville told a news conference: ''I don't listen to Sepp Blatter because I don't want to, because I've got a World Cup quarter-final and so have 21 other players on Saturday.

''And I don't want to hear negative things and people telling us how bad we are.

''People can say whatever they want. Our frame of mind playing for England is positive. You wouldn't expect us to be any different, would you?'' Captain David Beckham, whose free kick won the match for Sven-Goran Eriksson's men against a determined Ecuador, said: ''It's all about winning games.

''We do it in our way and (to) whoever doesn't like that, it's up to us to just enjoy ourselves and win football matches.'' England won the backing of German great Franz Beckenbauer, a World Cup winner as both a captain and a coach, and head of Germany's organising committee for the finals.

''I disagree with the FIFA president,'' he told a news conference at Berlin's Olympic stadium.

''The England team has played some excellent football and I think that Eriksson's style is very successful.

''I have been impressed with the way Wayne Rooney has played, he has done a wonderful job for England, and I am very impressed with the team.

''England are still in the tournament, and I believe they can beat Portugal.'' England were, at least in good company, when they received the barb from Blatter, who also watched Argentina reach a quarter-final against hosts Germany.

''The Argentinians have also become cautious, they played with five strung across the back against Mexico -- a tactic like that is new to me,'' Blatter said.


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