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Soccer-World-Portugal say tough enough to cope with England

Written by: Staff

MARIENFELD, Germany, June 29 (Reuters) Portugal said they had the talent and mental strength to overcome England in their World Cup quarter-final on Saturday but admitted the game would be difficult.

Captain Luis Figo said the team had studied videos of the England players and knew Sven-Goran Eriksson's men well enough to cope with whatever they threw at them in Gelsenkirchen.

''We will treat them with respect. We know the English team well, we know the players one on one, we know the way they play and we are prepared for the game,'' the midfielder told a news conference, adding: ''We hope they don't surprise us.'' Much has been made of the fact that Portugal put England out of Euro 2004, and that their coach, Luiz Felipe Scolari led Brazil when they sent England home from the World Cup in Japan four years ago.

Figo, however, dismissed suggestions of a psychological advantage.

''There is not a revenge problem for Portugal, the problem is more for England after the last Euro...You should ask the England players about this,'' he said. ''But the past is there for us to remember but it cannot help us in 90 minutes.'' Figo was uncharacteristically physical in the bad-tempered 1-0 victory over the Netherlands in which he was booked for butting Dutchman Mark van Bommel.

''Against the Netherlands we had to pull together and be as strong as possible to get a good result,'' he said today.

But that performance, in which Portugal collected a total of nine yellow cards, has prompted criticism of Portuguese tactics.

Costinha, one of those dismissed for two bookings, said the claims were not ruffling Portugal's feathers.

''Everyone is free to say what they want. We have to respond on the pitch. We are mentally strong and we don't think about that kind of pressure. We have to believe in ourselves,'' he said.

Figo agreed that Portugal would not be swayed by the English capacity for refusing to believe they were beaten.

''We are showing a great mentality in this competition and we hope to beat the English in all ways. They have a great mentality but we have to be better if we want to win,'' he said.

Figo, 33, would not be drawn on his international future.

''Every game could be my last, I'm not eternal,'' he said.

Reuters SHR VV2252

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