Registered: Sep 2000
Location: Playa d'en London
THE name Brazil and the sight of that bright yellow shirt will always stir the passion in every football lover's soul.
It is the country which turned a game into an art form.
Football has always come so naturally to the Brazilians - and always will.
It is no myth that barefooted kids on the beaches and in the flavellas everywhere from Rio to Sao Paulo are treating the ball as their mate from the moment they can walk.
They do tricks with it, play with fun and flair.
Just to win is not enough. They have to do it with style. If not, the victory is a hollow one - just as the penalty win over Italy in USA 94 is still viewed.
But this is where Brazil can self-destruct - and where I believe they will flounder tomorrow before Sven Goran Eriksson's England.
I have not seen a more compact, effective, efficient side in the whole tournament than England. They will not allow Brazil to cut great swathes through them with their clever football.
Oh no. The excellent Rio Ferdinand and able Sol Campbell, both growing with every game, will not allow that to happen.
They will not dominate midfield with destructive, flowing passing.
No, Nicky Butt will make sure of that.
Who would have believed that statement three weeks ago? 'Nicky Butt will stop the Brazilians'. Cool, calm and efficient, Butt does a great job.
He stops the opposition, steals the ball and then delivers to someone.
Every side needs a Butt, yet they are underestimated when it comes to what they can do - and just watch what this one does tomorrow.
For me, he has been England's player of the tournament.
Now we have established that our defence will negate Brazil's attacks and the midfield battleground is ours, we will move up front.
Pulling the strings for the hitmen will be David Beckham - and up front there are Michael Owen and Emile Heskey.
Owen has yet to hit top form and that could come against Brazil.
Heskey has had his critics. But don't put that goal of his against Denmark down to keeper Thomas Sorensen.
That ball fizzed when it left his boot and it would have taken a good save to stop it. From watching him last season, he always has one great game in about four. The time is now.
The major threat to England comes from Rivaldo and Ronaldo.
Rivaldo is in great form and possesses the ability to turn a game by doing something we cannot. That does not mean he will do it in Shizuoka, I'm just saying he has the talent.
Ronaldo is also back to his very best. Every time he gets the ball he looks like scoring and the way Ferdinand and Campbell cope with him could be the key.
But the Brazil team is not that great. The side I played against in the 1960s was.
I faced Brazil three times, losing 5-1 away - I got the goal - drawing 1-1 at Wembley and losing 3-1 in the quarter-finals of the 1962 World Cup in Chile.
That was THE team, great skill but with a solid defence as well. This side is not a patch on it.
It is the name Brazil that always strikes fear. I can hear people in England saying it now: 'It will be unbelievable if we beat Brazil'.
Why? We are better than them, believe me.
We should go out there and beat Brazil.
If we do, we will win the World Cup.
It is Turkey or Senegal after that and then, maybe, the old enemy Germany in the final. We know what happened the last time we met them.
This World Cup has allowed us to get rid of all our hoodoos.
Germany stuffed 5-1 in qualifying, revenge over Argentina, proof we can clinically finish off sides at this level with the 3-0 destruction of Denmark.
Now for the team that the starry-eyed fan will always regard as the world's best.
Some pundits have tried to claim this is not a great World Cup because the big teams have tumbled. I disagree.
This is one of the most exciting I can remember. It has proved that in all four corners of the globe the game is growing.
The kids need their heroes. In Senegal, South Korea, the USA, Turkey, a whole new generation will be taking up football because of this World Cup - that's why it is great.
It has proved that names and reputations alone no longer stand for anything.
Brazil will also find that out tomorrow.
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Registered: Jan 2002
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