Portugal v Netherlands: date with destiny
Netherlands coach Dick Advocaat has been typically pugnacious in steering his Dutch juggernaut to the semi-finals of Euro 2004. With luck finally on his side, can he sail a course to victory? Portugal v Netherlands, LIVE NOW on Eurosport.com!
Big Phil Scolari is no stranger to luck himself but recent history has not been kind to the host nation of the European Championships.
Disdainful of penalty practices, at loggerheads with the Dutch press, Advocaat possesses the same arrogant streak that has been endemic in Dutch football since the golden era of the 1970s.
But what really put the cat amongst the pigeons was the substitution of lively Chelsea-bound winger Arjen Robben with defensive midfielder Paul Bosvelt whilst 2-1 up in the Group D encounter with the Czech Republic.
"In my job there is always criticism and I accept that," he said. "But some people violated every rule of decent behaviour [...] this goes against the way I was raised."
Nevertheless, the squad itself is looking more unified than for many a year, which can only spell trouble for Portugal. As does the fact that Holland have overcome their penalty hoodoo and look to have re-acquainted themselves with Lady Luck.
Advocaat has also hinted that he may start with Marc Overmars on the right wing, saying he is unsatisfied with Andy van der Meyde's contribution.
SCOLARI SNIPES AT DUTCH TACTICS
Just as the Netherlands have overcome their penalty jinx, Portugal will be hoping to show similar disdain for destiny. The last four host nations have all lost in the semi-finals -- while Portugal's own record at this stage of major competitions reads played three, lost three.
Portugal coach Luiz Felipe Scolari is doing his bit to make sure fate plays no part at all, urging Swedish referee Anders Frisk to be alert to dirty Dutch tricks in Wednesday's Euro 2004 semi-final.
"Reiziger lifts his feet off the ground when he takes the throw-ins, while Ruud van Nistelrooy often stands offside at free kicks and gains an advantage by doing so," said Scolari, who has also accused the the Manchester United man of diving.
"There's a strong percentage chance that both will be available," said Portuguese team doctor Henrique Jones.
Andrade would start the game alongside Ricardo Carvalho in the back four. Pauleta returns from suspension, but may not displace Nuno Gomes up front.
PORTUGAL (4-2-3-1): 1-Ricardo; 13-Miguel, 16-Ricardo Carvalho, 4-Andrade, 14-Nuno Valente; 6-Costinha, 18-Maniche; 7-Figo, 20-Deco, 17-Cristiano Ronaldo; 21-Nuno Gomes