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Possession is the key for England, says Beckham

Written by: Staff

BUHLERTAL, Germany, June 29 (Reuters) England captain David Beckham believes that keeping possession is the key to settling their score with Portugal in Saturday's World Cup quarter-finals.

England lost to Portugal on penalties in the last eight of Euro 2004, having failed dismally to cope with Portugal's possession football for most of the preceding two hours.

Asked if the key to their re-match at Gelsenkirchen was stopping Portugal's flowing passes in midfield, Beckham told a news conference today: ''It is. But I think with great teams like this, you can't stop them playing sometimes.

''They're going to have a lot of possession, of course, but it's up to us to pass the ball around well.

''We know as a team, and as players, that we can do that and doing it on a big stage like this is important because Portugal will pass the ball around well.

''It's in their nature, that's the way they play. They're going to have a certain amount of possession but hopefully we will too.'' England have not shown any real flowing football yet at these finals, having stumbled through Group B and edged Ecuador 1-0 in the second round with a Beckham free kick.

PLAYING WELL Aware of the criticism facing his team, the midfielder said: ''We don't go into these games thinking 'if we win, we win, but we're not bothered about playing well'.

''We always want to play well -- it hasn't happened for us, only on occasions, at this tournament.

''We haven't played as well as we can do and we know that. But we're in the quarter-finals of the World Cup and some very talented teams have gone out.

''We've all got confidence... let's have a bit of positivity and get behind the team.'' Beckham tried to play down the rivalry with Portugal and their coach Luiz Felipe Scolari, who also engineered England's World Cup quarter-final exit as Brazil's manager in 2002.

''It would mean the world to go further than we have in competitions before,'' said the 31-year-old.

But he added: ''It's not a personal battle with Portugal or Scolari.

''They're a very good team with some of the best players in the world and Scolari's got an amazing record, he's a great manager and a good person.

''We've got to forget what's happened in the past. What's in the past is in the past and we have to concentrate on the future, which is this game on Saturday.'' REUTERS DH RAI1815

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