| Deco at practice in Marienfeld. (AFP)
Munich: Portugal captain Luis Figo is in doubt for the semi-final against France while winger Cristiano Ronaldo is also struggling to regain fitness, coach Luiz Felipe Scolari said on Tuesday.
Figo picked up a thigh strain in the quarter final win over England. Ronaldo played with a thigh injury and complained that the problem slowed him down in the later stages of the match.
“Figo and Cristiano have been training well. They know they have problems and we need to check how they are to see if they can play,” Scolari said.
“The possibility is that Cristiano has a bigger chance and Figo a little bit less. But we can’t say anything right now. Historically, we have a big disadvantage against France.”
He also took a swipe at his own playing career on Tuesday, saying he made the ball cry.
“It’s a shame that players such as Zidane and Figo are getting older. We would like to see them play for another seven, eight or 15 years. The ball doesn’t cry at their feet. When I played, I made the ball cry. They have had their own training schedule,” he added.
History and a revitalised Zinedine Zidane suggest France will have the upper hand on Wednesday. The 1998 champions have fond memories of semi-final clashes with the Portuguese, having met them twice at that stage in European Championships ' in 1984 and 2000. Les Bleus won both matches after close battles and, each time, went on to win the title.
The 34-year-old Zidane seems to have recaptured his brilliant best and was magnificent in France’s 1-0 win over holders Brazil in the quarter-finals.
After eliminating pre-tournament favourites Brazil to reach the semis, the French are bracing for the worse in Munich on Wednesday.
“It will be tough' Tougher than Brazil,” Lilian Thuram said.
“It’s a semi-final, more pressure. They also want to get to the final,” Franck Ribery said. “Defensively they’re stronger than Brazil and they have good players in attack.”
Meanwhile, France will play in white for the third time in a row.
Portugal: 1-Ricardo; 13-Miguel, 16-Ricardo Carvalho, 5-Fernando Meira, 14-Nuno Valente; 6-Costinha, 18-Maniche, 20-Deco, 7-Luis Figo, 17-Cristiano Ronaldo; 9-Pauleta.
France: 16-Fabien Barthez; 19-Willy Sagnol, 15-Lilian Thuram, 5-William Gallas, 3-Eric Abidal; 4-Patrick Vieira, 6-Claude Makelele; 22-Franck Ribery, 10-Zinedine Zidane, 7-Florent Malouda; 12-Thierry Henry.
France and Portugal have never played each other in the World Cup, but have met four times with the former emerging winners on all occasions. The following is the list:
- Jan. 24, 1996: France bt Portugal 3-2 in Paris (friendly)
- Jan. 22, 1997: France bt Portugal 2-0 in Braga (friendly)
- June 28, 2000: France bt Portugal 2-1 in Brussels (Euro Cup)
- April 25, 2001: France bt Portugal 4-0 in Paris (friendly)
Compiled by Mohandas Menon