By Paul Kennedy
Dutch coach Marco van Basten
said he regrets publicly criticizing struggling star
Ruud van Nistelrooy
"Regret is a big word," van Basten said before the Oranje's match against Portugal, "but what I did was not correct to the
The Manchester United star had been substituted during all three group games, and van Basten hinted that Dirk Kuyt
might start at center forward
against the Portuguese, saying the position was "a point of discussion."
"We might expect more from Ruud," van Basten said on Thursday. "He has to play a bigger role in our attack."
Basten admitted he should have first talked to van Nistelrooy, who was not pleased with his coach's remarks.
Van Basten says others in the Dutch lineup must step up against Portugal.
a solid team," he said, "and now we need some offensive power, but that has to come from the whole team." IN AND OUT.
Both teams rested players
carrying yellow cards for their third game of group play. Those players should return to the starting lineup. Khalid Boulahrouz
should take over at right
back for Johnny Heitinga
in the Dutch lineup. HISTORY.
Portugal has the
Oranje's number. It beat the Netherlands, 2-1, in the semifinals of Euro 2004 and swept both games in qualifying for the 2002 World Cup. Portugal has lost only once in 10 meetings. PROBABLES. Portugal (4-5-1):
1-Ricardo (52 caps-0 goals); 13-Miguel (31-1), 16-Ricardo Carvalho (27-1),
5-Fernando Meira (33-2), 14-Nuno Valente (25-1); 6-Costinha (46-2), 18-Maniche (34-5) 7-Luis Figo (123-32), 20-Deco (36-3), 17-Cristiano Ronaldo (34-12); 9-Pauleta (84-47). Netherlands (4-3-3):
1-Edwin van der Sar (112 caps-0 goals); 3-Khalid Boulahrouz (14-0), 13-Andre Ooijer (22-2), 4-Joris Mathijsen (10-0), 5-Giovanni van Bronckhorst (59-3);
18-Mark van Bommel (39-7), 20-Wesley Sneijder (26-5), 8-Philip Cocu (100-10); 17-Robin van Persie (13-2), 9-Ruud van Nistelrooy (54-28), 11-Arjen Robben (22-7). Referee: Valentin Ivanov (Russia).
Live, 3 pm ET.
Live, 3 pm ET. Wayne's World
England was supposed to
bring Wayne Rooney
back from his foot injury slowly, but he suddenly takes on a leading role in England's match against Ecuador on Sunday.
out almost seven weeks due to a broken foot, Rooney played 32 minutes in England's 2-0 win over Trinidad & Tobago and 69 minutes of the 2-2 tie with Sweden. He could be called upon to play
the whole game as the lone striker in a 4-5-1 formation against Ecuador.
"I hope he's ready for 90 minutes," said England coach Sven Goran Eriksson,
"but it's only the match that will
decide that." Michael Owen
is out of the World Cup with a knee injury, and giant Peter Crouch
England's only other frontline option is 17-year-old Theo Walcott
Ecuador coach Luis Fernando Suarez
Rooney is the player he fears the most.
"He's very fast in the last quarter [of the field]," said Suarez, "and it's difficult to disturb his movements with or without the ball. We must pay
attention to him. He can make a difference at any moment." IN AND OUT. Carlos Tenorio
and Agustin Delgado
, who were so impressive in Ecuador's first two games, return
after sitting out the last Group A game against Germany. Also back are captain Ivan Hurtado
and Neicer Reasco
backline and midfielder Segundo Castillo.
Midfielder Steven Gerrard
, who came off the bench and scored against
Sweden, should return to the England starting lineup in place of Owen Hargreaves
. Gerrard could also come on for struggling Peter Crouch
with Michael Carrick
coming on as a fifth midfielder in a defensive position. HISTORY.
England and Ecuador have never met. Under Coach Sven Goran Eriksson
, England has won six of seven meetings against South American
opponents. Its lone loss was a 2-1 defeat to Brazil in the quarterfinals of the 2002 World Cup. PROBABLES. England (4-4-2):
1-Paul Robinson (24 caps-0 goals); 15-Jamie Carragher (27-0), 5-Rio Ferdinand
(50-1), 6-John Terry (27-1), 3-Ashley Cole (49-0); 7-David Beckham (92-16), 8-Frank Lampard (43-11), 4-Steven Gerrard (45-9), 11-Joe Cole (35-6); 21-Peter Crouch (10-6), 9-Wayne Rooney (31-11). Ecuador (4-4-2):
12-Cristian Mora (11 caps-0 goals); 4-Ulises de la Cruz (87-5), 3-Ivan Hurtado (132-5), 17-Giovanny Espinoza
(59-2), 18-Neicer Reasco (33-0); 8-Edison Mendez (67-10), 20-Edwin Tenorio (71-0), 14-Segundo Castillo (13-1), 16-Luis Antonio Valencia (20-3); 11-Agustin Delgado (70-31), 21-Carlos Tenorio
Frank De Bleeckere (BEL). TV.
Live, 11 am ET.
Live, 11 am ET.