Little Philip on Big Phil
Surely I'm not the only person to have grown tired of Scolari's relentlessly defensive tactics (actually I know I'm not, tens of millions of Brazilians agree with me). Even people who HATE football could have seen on saturday that Simao was a wasted player. He has none of Ronaldo's control, none of his speed; even his delivery was worse (on those rare occasions he actually got near enough to the box to put in a cross). Equally he contributed very little defensively, Rui Jorge was still exposed with him on the left wing, there was no greater compactness or solidity to the Portuguese midfield with him prancing ringleted up and down the touch-line.
However, the arch conservative 'Big' Phil, decided to give him another start, and moreover to continue playing with Pauleta up front on his own. To digress briefly, its ok to play with Ronaldo (Brazilian) up front on his own, as he is a genius. Pauleta is not, he's just a talented if somewhat slight opportunist. You have to support him. I can't agree with Mark on the two strikers issue, properly drilled, a good strike partnership will always cause more problems for a defense than one isolated striker; the demands on the attacking midfield are just too great otherwise. Not every team has a Michael Ballack in it to dominate the edge of the box. No, Portugal needed to start with two strikers, but they didn't, and an absolute gem of a pass from Deco (surely pass of the tournament thus far) got them a goal which briefly obscured this still tangible fact.
The Russian resistance in the second half perhaps does justify somewhat the retaining of two defensive midfielders, in Maniche and Costinha, but the footballing romantic in me says that's bullshit. When you have a team down to ten men, you press your advantage, you don't cower behind a solid defense and hope against hope that the past-it legs of Rui Costa will finally come good and haul you to victory (wonderful outside-of-the-boot cross from Ronaldo for the second goal). Deco must start against Spain, Rui Costa must stay on the bench, he must play with two strikers, and Ronaldo is currently by far the most threatening wide player in the Portugal squad (and along with Vicente and Joaquin, in the tournament). All that said, I really hope Spain go through...