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Vicente del Bosque
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VICENTE DEL BOSQUE

BIOGRAPHY : Vicente del Bosque had a tough act to follow when replacing Euro 2008 winner Luis Aragones at the helm of the Spanish national side, but the man who can claim to be the greatest Real Madrid manager of modern times has never been one to duck a challenge. With ten wins from ten World Cup qualifiers, he is once again at the helm of a deeply talented squad capable of challenging for the very highest honours in the game.

Del Bosque is a Madridista through and through, which makes his controversial sacking by Real in the summer of 2003 all the harder to comprehend. After winning five La Liga titles and four Copa del Reys as a cultured if unspectacular midfielder at the Bernabeu, Del Bosque joined the coaching setup with Real and spent two spells as caretaker boss before landing the job on a permanent basis when replacing John Toshack in November 1999. His impact was immediate. Real won the Champions League in his first season, defeating Valencia 3-0 in the 2000 final in Paris, while the next season they sealed the Primera Liga title.

With Florentino Perez's first galactico project in full swing, Del Bosque retained control over a dressing room that included world stars like Luis Figo, Zinedine Zidane and Ra

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Portugal vs Spain Preview

World champions Spain will take on Portugal in their glamorous friendly encounter in Lisbon on Wednesday evening.

Portugal, meanwhile, will be keen to build on their good start under new coach Paulo Bento in an encounter that is also being used to promote the two Iberian countries' joint bid to host the 2018 World Cup.

Having already ended a 44-year wait to win a major trophy by clinching the Euro 2008 title, the Spanish this summer added their first World Cup crown after an extra-time victory over Holland in July's final in Johannesburg.

That triumph over the Dutch was one of 13 victories in 16 matches so far in 2010 for Vicente Del Bosque's side, and they will be looking to finish the year with a good showing against Portugal - who were one of their victims en route to winning the World Cup when a solitary David Villa goal decided the last-16 encounter between the two.

Del Bosque said: "We aren't playing for any points but we are playing for prestige. These are two countries with a big footballing tradition and we want to put on a great show to give a good image in our support of the Candidatura Iberica (World Cup bid).

"Both countries can field many of the best players in the world."

However, while the two nations may be fighting together to host the 2018 World Cup - a decision that FIFA are due to make on December 2 - Del Bosque insists that does not mean there will be any quarter given in tomorrow's match.

"When the first ball is kicked then we start talking about football. The two teams will go out to win, to play as well as they can. Both countries want to give the best image possible of themselves and for the fans to enjoy the football," he said.

Should Villa repeat his feat from the World Cup and score against the Portuguese tomorrow when he will become Spain's record goalscorer.

The Barcelona striker is level on 44 strikes with former Real Madrid forward Raul.

Another player who is fast approaching a landmark for his country is Villa's club-mate Xavi, who will win his 99th cap if he features at the Estadio da Luz .

Xavi has been struggling with an Achilles tendon problem this season and missed last month's Euro 2012 qualifiers against Lithuania and Scotland, but Del Bosque has said the 30-year-old could play the whole match tomorrow if he is able to.

Portugal go into the match having had a mixed time since their World Cup exit at the hands of the Spanish but now looking a side on the up under new coach Bento.

They picked up just one point from their opening two Euro 2012 qualifiers against Cyprus (4-4) and Norway (1-0 defeat) but bounced back with 3-1 victories over Denmark and Iceland.

Those two wins were under the guidance of former national team midfielder Bento, who replaced Carlos Queiroz in September.

Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo, who currently leads Spain's Primera Division scoring charts after netting 11 times in Real Madrid's opening 11 games, said of the encounter: "They are the world champions and we`re really looking forward to the game.

"We`re playing at home and I`m sure the stadium is going to be full, with a very nice atmosphere.

"I don't think our defeat against Spain in the World Cup will be a thorn on our side. In football, sometimes you win and sometimes you lose.

"It will just be another game we will all enjoy because we are facing Spain, who are currently the best team in the world," the £80million man told Spanish television channel TVE.

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"Spain were lazy against Portugal"

Vincent Del Bosque was furious with his Spain side that crashed to an abject 4-0 loss to Portugal at the Estadio da Luz.

This result marked Spains worse defeat in international fixtures in 1961 and is a second trouncing in an international friendly this year, when they lost 4-1 to Argentina in September.

"Spain did not play as well as Portugal and were very lazy. We have no excuse because we gave them many chances," Del Bosque told Marca after the game.

"We could not have played any worse today and I am upset because it was an important game."

The game marked La Furia Roja's last international fixture in 2010, and the side will take a four month break, when they will next take on the Czech Republic in an important Euro 2012 qualifier.

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Improved Portugal humble world champions Spain 4-0

Reuters

Helder Postiga scored twice as a vastly improved Portugal side crushed world and European champions Spain 4-0 on Wednesday in a friendly international.

Portugal took a deserved lead just before halftime when Cristiano Ronaldo beat Sergio Busquets on the left and sent a powerful drive towards Iker Casillas which the Spain keeper could only block. The ball fell for Carlos Martins to fire in from near the spot.

The hosts added their second five minutes after the break when Joao Moutinho and Nani combined to feed striker Postiga, whose goalbound backheel was helped in by Sergio Ramos's desperate clearance.

Postiga netted again with a simple strike in the 68th minute and Hugo Almeida completed the rout deep into second-half injury time after Pepe led a counterattack.

Portugal were strong from the start and did not show any of the caution that marked their 1-0 defeat in the second round of the World Cup to the same opponents.

Nani had the first chance but his drive from outside the box flew wide of the right post. The winger also put Postiga through on 20 minutes only for his chip to be blocked by Casillas.

The game, held to promote the countries' joint bid to host the 2018 World Cup, was at times an intense affair, with Busquets and Ronaldo picking up yellow cards for challenges on each other.

Portugal midfielders Raul Meireiles and Moutinho worked tirelessly, preventing Xavi and Iniesta from deploying their trademark "tiki-taka" one-touch style, with Spain's only real chance in the first half a David Silva header that went wide on 31 minutes.

Five minutes later Ronaldo's trickery left Gerard Pique sitting on the turf and the forward's sumptuous lob was flying in over Casillas but Nani, who was offside, touched it in and the goal was disallowed.

Ronaldo was one the many players replaced at halftime, but Portugal continued to drive forward.

The Spaniards failed to lift their game and their rare chances in the second half were shots from Xabi Alonso and Cesc Fabregas and header by Fernando Llorente, all of which went wide.

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