Liechtenstein and England may be a million miles apart
Match-up of the Weekend: Liechtenstein and England may be a million miles apart in many footballing aspects but both have turned overseas to improve the performances of their national teams.
German Ralf Loose has done wonders with a nation whose population numbers just 32,000 while Swede Sven Goran Eriksson took England to the World Cup quarter-finals last year, a feat bettered by only two other England managers in history.
Tonight it will be European Championship points at stake in Vaduz. Loose will attempt to frustrate the calm Eriksson for as long as possible; it should be a fascinating encounter and that is why it's TheFA.com match-up of the weekend...
RALF LOOSE (Manager, Liechtenstein) v SVEN GORAN ERIKSSON (Manager, England)
Ralf: Bundesliga star, belief in youth, defensive organisation, no-nonsense disciplinarian
Sven: Unflappable demeanour, expensive spectacles, watching a lot of football, being Swedish
Ralf: Guiding Liechtenstein to 2-1 European Championship qualifier win v Azerbaijan in 1998; the country's only competitive victory
Sven: David Beckham's penalty gives England a 1-0 win against group favourites Argentina at the World Cup
Ralf: Losing 3-1 to The Faroes in last year's Battle of the Minnows
Sven: David Seaman concedes a goal direct from a corner as England are held 2-2 by Macedonia in our last Euro 2004 qualifier
Ralf: After keeping the same squad together for the past five years, Loose is starting to feel the benefit. A last-minute goal by Martin Stocklasa gave Liechtenstein a 1-1 draw against Macedonia in their first Euro 2004 qualifier and even a 5-0 defeat in Turkey last time out isn't a disgraceful result against the World Cup semi-finallists
Sven: After a respectable World Cup, England have spluttered this season - Michael Owen's goal-poaching ability earned them a 2-1 win in Slovakia but the 2-2 home draw with Macedonia was disappointing. Beaten 3-1 at home by Australia in a friendly at Upton Park last time out, the England camp argue the result would not have happened had qualification points been at stake.
WHAT THEY SAY ABOUT THEMSELVES
Ralf: "I believe in being positive. My message to my players will be to go out and score the first goal against England"
Sven: "Managing England is a big, big job and I am happy and proud to have it. I want to finish my job with England."
Ralf: Loose's name is pronounced Loser but he also knows what it is like to be a winner, spending a decade as a Bundesliga player with Borussia Dortmund and Fortuna Dusseldorf between 1982 and 1992. For the last six years, he has been in charge of Liechtenstein and has achieved notable success with a nation made up of a few villages with a total population of 32,000. He threw in a group of 16 and 17-year-olds and has kept faith with them for the past few years; the team beat Azerbaijan and kept Spain and Israel down to 2-0. They also held Northern Ireland to a draw last year and repeated the feat in a Euro 2004 qualifier against Macedonia. Loose lives in Liechtenstein and most nights trains the country's schoolkids as he tries to build a football culture in the ski-mad principality.
Sven: Eriksson has had an amazing coaching career spanning 25 years in four different countries. He was just 31 when appointed coach of Gothenburg where he won the Swedish Cup and championship in successive seasons. That attracted the attentions of Portuguese giants Benfica and at the age of 35 he took them to the UEFA Cup Final, where they lost to Anderlecht. He won the championship in Lisbon the following season but moved to Italy in 1984 where he spent the rest of the decade with Roma and Fiorentina. In 1990, back with Benfica, he reached the Champions League Final - losing to AC Milan - before returning to Serie A in 1992 with Sampdoria. He stayed there for five years before moving to Lazio, where the highlight was winning the European Cup-Winners Cup in 1999 and the league championship in 2000. Then, in 2001, he took on the biggest challenge of his career - the English national team job. A remarkable 5-1 win in Germany silenced the critics who felt a foreign coach shouldn't have been appointed and England reached the last eight of the World Cup, bowing out to eventual winners Brazil.
"He has done very well for us. He is only 40 and I wouldn't be surprised if Bundesliga clubs are taking note of his success" Liechtenstein's Freddie Gigon
"Sven's proven track record speaks for itself. I don't think anyone disputes that - football people will tell you that." David Davies
Compiled by Joe Bernstein
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LIECHTENSTEIN v ENGLAND
Saturday March 29th
Euro 2004 qualifier in Vaduz