For England and Portugal, a Contrast in Styles
GELSENKIRCHEN, Germany (AP) - Portugal's Luiz Felipe Scolari and England's Sven-Goran Eriksson are top international soccer coaches. The resemblance pretty much ends there.
Except that neither of them wants to be England's coach.
The World Cup paths of Scolari, a hot-blooded, mustachioed South American, and Eriksson, a cool, fair-haired Scandinavian, cross in the World Cup quarterfinals Saturday.
It's likely to be an entertaining encounter between teams featuring some of Europe's best players, but with contrasting styles.
Recent off-field events have added spice to the meeting.
Eriksson is leaving his job after the tournament, two years before his contract expires. Scolari, who led his native Brazil to the 2002 World Cup title, last month snubbed an approach from the English Football Association to replace him.
The Brazilian has gotten the better of the Swede in their two previous meetings, knocking England out of its last two major tournaments in the quarterfinals.
With Brazil, he dashed England's hopes at the last World Cup. He did it again at the 2004 European Championship, this time with Portugal, eliminating England in a penalty-kick shootout.
Scolari says he holds Eriksson in high regard.
"Eriksson is a competent coach with a proven track record. Both of us have ability and respect for each other. A win or a loss (on Saturday) won't change that," Scolari said.
Eriksson also waved away talk of bad blood between the two men, both in their late 50s and both with four-decade soccer careers.
"I'm not a man of revenge. It's not a word in my head," he said.
The Gelsenkirchen match brings a contrast on the bench as well as on the field.
Scolari is a tempestuous figure on the touchline. He badgers match officials, throws his arms in the air and wags his finger. He rebukes and encourages his players, and rarely manages to stay seated for long.
Eriksson mostly sits bent over in the dugout with his arms on his knees in quiet contemplation.
England midfielder Owen Hargreaves discarded the difference.
"At this level whether you scream or yell or whether you talk to someone normally, I don't think it has that big an effect on the players," he said. "A manager cannot intervene on the pitch."
The differences, though, may show through.
Scolari has built a team in his image, endowing it with a winning momentum that comes from self-belief and an uncompromising attitude. The result: Portugal has produced its best World Cup showing in 40 years.
Deco, a midfielder, puts that down to Scolari's motivational skills.
"He's a strong personality who's always there for the players. The mood he's created in the squad is incredible," said Deco, who won't play Saturday after getting a red card in the second-round win over the Netherlands.
The record books read heavily in Scolari's favor.
He has never lost a World Cup match. He has set a tournament record of 11 consecutive coaching victories after winning seven games with unbeaten Brazil in 2002.
A year after moving to Lisbon, he steered Portugal to the final of the 2004 European Championship. That was the country's best showing in the continental competition.
Portugal's current 18-game unbeaten run is a national record. And he's the longest-serving Portugal coach with 47 games in charge and a record 31 victories.
Though sometimes abrasive, the Brazilian is a national hero in Portugal.
Eriksson's image in England, meanwhile, has been tarnished by scandal.
Sensationalist coverage in the British tabloids, which exposed Eriksson's romantic affairs and tricked him into making indiscreet remarks about the England players to an undercover reporter, hastened his early departure.
His team's lackluster performances so far in Germany have amplified fans' dissatisfaction.
Eriksson has won no titles with England, though he has chalked up some memorable victories, including a famous 5-1 win over Germany in a 2002 World Cup qualifier.
He vigorously defends his coaching acumen.
"Of course I have a clear vision - we all have, together with the other coaches," the England coach said. "What do you think we do? Let them go out and say good luck to them, do what you want to do? I don't understand. "If it's right or wrong, that's another thing. But of course it's clear what we do. Every minute we are together it's absolutely clear what we are going to do."
The two coaches have plenty riding on Saturday's match. Scolari is eyeing becoming the first coach to win the World Cup title with different teams.
Eriksson is looking to restore his reputation before his departure.
(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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