Lisbon: The first semi-final of Euro 2004 has Portugal the so-called Brazilians of Europe up against the attacking Dutch. The stakes are high as they usually are at this stage. It's a chance for the hosts to go on to win their first major tournament and for the Dutch it's a case of wanting to make up for their failure to qualify for the last World Cup. Luis Figo is a FIFA footballer of the year whose cv is only missing one thing aÂ" a big title win for his country. Three times Portugal have been the beaten semi-finalists at a major event - the latest was Euro 2000. Figo though hasn't been in the best of form in this tournament and he was criticized for not taking part in his team's celebrations after the win over England.Holland have Ruud Van Nistelrooy aÂ" the lanky striker forever prowling in the penalty box waiting to score. He already has 4 goals. However he does tend to give the linesman plenty of opportunities for offside calls. Nistelrooy in the prime of his career had to miss out on playing at the World Cup, but now he has the chance to make up for it.Both teams have had a fairly similar story at Euro 2004. Both had shaky starts aÂ" Holland in particular were lucky to qualify from the group of death.Portugal ironically could become the first team since the Dutch in 1988 to win the title after having lost their first game. Meanwhile the hosts just like their semi-final opponents are coming off wins after a penalty shootout. Portugal and Holland have met each other on eight previous occasions with the Portuguese winning four times and the Dutch just once. But the Brazilian coach for the hosts. Luiz Felipe Scolari says that the country needs to temper the national euphoria. He says the Dutch are as good a team as the one that won the European title in 1988.Meanwhile Scolari has urged every fan in the stadium to wear red and green so that Portugal begins the match by winning at least the colour battle against the Dutch. Scolari's Dutch counterpart also urged his fans to take on the challenge of bolstering the team. "It is very important for the team but also for the Dutch fans. I think we have incredible fans. Every game they are there. They are very excited and if we win that (semi-final)! Also, for a small country, again we are part of the last four. I think for Dutch football, it is great," said Dutch cach, Dick Advocaat. However the last thing that Portugal would want is for Lisbon to be taken over by what's called the orange tide.
Topics : Football