England cannot beat Argentina- you can quote me on that!

By Myles Palmer

For the first time ever Argentina’s footballers have NOT argued about money.

Before every World Cup they usually demand bigger and bigger bonuses.

Not this time because their country is in chaos-financially, socially, politically.It’s a shambles.


They earn millions in the Italian and Spanish leagues and they want to make the folks back home happy for two hours.

Interestingly, back in BA they DIDN’T think Veron had a great game against Nigeria, didn’t think he commanded the game as they expected.

Also, they expected CRESPO to start, not Batistuta.

They should know by now that BIELSA goes back a long way with Batistuta.

He had him at Newells Old Boys in Rosario when he started out and then he was sold to River Plate, where Passarella hated him, didn’t think he could play, so he was sold to Boca Juniors, where he was a typical Boca centre forward – physical, a strong No 9, like Martin Palermo, another beefy,clumsy No.9 who came along later.

BATISTUTA was an immediate success at Boca, fed by a creative partner whose name I forget.

Fiorentina were watching this guy in the Copa America in Chile and saw Batistuta and signed him instead.


Just thought I’d throw it in.

EARLIER THIS EVENING I saw Hansen, O’Leary and Schmeichel all say they thought England would win.

They have to say that.

I often forget that TV is a mass medium, which seeks a mass audience.

They have to talk up the game because the BBC need the viewing figures – the match is on BBC1 at 12.30 tomorrow lunchtime.

To sum up; Argentina have more width, more skill, more shape, more tactical discipline and more experience than England, so I see no miracle for Sven.

Incidentally, when he played Heskey wide, I called it 4-3-3 and he called it 4-4-2.

We were both wrong. Heskey contributed so much it was 4-3-2!

If this game is just about football, England cannot win.

If it’s about revenge, politics, war – anything could happen.

If England do win I shall take a week off ANR because I obviously don’t know what I’m talking about.I might take a month off.

I’m not knocking England for the sake of it,I’m not a depressive,I’m not being perversely unpatriotic here.

I’m just calling it as I see it.

I’m just saying what I often say : DON’T BELIEVE THE HYPE!

If England beat Argentina then I will have been deluding myself and I shall find something else to do.

Sven has now picked the midfield I recommended for the Sweden game. With Scholes on the left.Maybe Butt wasn’t fit then.

That will help. Playing Heskey in his normal position might help too.

Heskey is a belligerent bulldozer whose second touch is a barge.

He touches the ball with his foot, then collides with the nearest defender to stop him reaching the ball.

Sometimes he slams into the defender BEFORE he plays the ball.

Heskey is bigger and stronger than the defenders, so that ploy works a lot of the time.

It’s a contact sport and the referee has to finely judge the degree of contact in relation to the position of the ball, the intent, the damage.


Referee is COLLINA, who is mates with all these guys because he refs them every Sunday in Serie A.

For that reason, COLLINA is not a good choice by FIFA.

I could easily write another ten pages about this game but I won’t because you don’t have time to read it.


ENGLAND(4-4-2): Seaman; Mills, Ferdinand, Campbell, A.Cole;

Beckham, Hargreaves, Butt, Scholes; Owen, Heskey

ARGENTINA(3-3-1-3: Cavallero: Pochettino, Samuel, Placente: Zanetti,Simeone, Sorin; Veron; Ortega, Batistuta, Kily Gonzalez.

I’m going over to my best friend Doug’s house to watch this one.

The last England game I watched there was in Stockholm, Hoddle’s last game.

That was the only international I have ever seen where NOT ONE England player played well.

So going to Doug’s is not a good omen.

As I’ve been saying all week, I just don’t see how we can win it.

Why do I make such an emphatic prediction? Why do I not hedge my bets with ifs and buts?

Because I know in my bones that the England team is deeply flawed, not good enough.

June 6th 2002