Verontina should crush England

By Myles Palmer

ARGENTINA are a far better side than England.

They have a fairly settled team, a fixed system that everybody knows, and a manager they respect.

Argentina can play fast or slow, tight or loose, wide or narrow, in the air or on the ground.

If we admit NOW that Argentina are superior to us we will save ourselves a lot of grief on Friday.

Myslef, I’m spending four days building down to Friday.

Many reporters picked their teams on Monday or Tuesday. Many fans re-pick their teams every day, so I guess I will have to pick mine.

But first, consider this : Sven knows Veron – and Veron dominates the way they play.

It’s all about Veron’s passes, Veron’s corners, Veron’s movement, Veron’s moustache.

No team with so many excellent players should be built round one man.

But this one is – and that is its only weakness.

For a lot of the 1-0 win over Nigeria it wasn’t Argentina, it was Verontina.

Thast why two weeks ago I said : Go with Butt and Hargreaves in the middle.

Press Veron! Make him make passes he doesn’t want to make.

Nicky Butt has trained with Veron every day.He knows him inside out.

If Butt and Hargreaves hound Veron he might have a bad day.

If he has a bad day, Argentina might have a bad day and Engerland can grab a draw against a superior side.

Obviously, it would be insane to make more than two changes, so I would compromise with Sheringham and Butt in a 4-4-1-1 system.

Seaman;Mills Ferdinand Campbell Cole;Beckham Butt Hargreaves Scholes;Sheringham; Owen.

Reluctantly, I’ve dropped Vassell.

So there it is: Argentina are far better than England-technically, tactically, and in terms of experience.

Bielsa is a good detail man but your first game is not about details.It’s about winning.

So Bielsa was notlooking for a performance, he was looking for a win.

Against Nigeria they played conservatively.

It was a safe and careful first half.He wanted to have a look at the Nigerians and suss them out, see how good they were.

We are told that KILY GONZALEZ for Claudio Lopez will be Bielsa’s only change.

Kily is a conventional wide man who has a thunderous shot but scores very few goals.

By dropping Claudio Lopez, Bielsa is admitting what I said two days ago : that the manager used him in the wrong way.

AFTER FRANCE 98, where I saw a lot of shirt-pulling but no tactical innovation, I said that the future of football lay in roaming speedy wingers like Overmars and Claudio Lopez, who could spurt beyond defenders and score one-on-ones.

Claudio Lopez was a left-footed, brave greyhound at Valencia under Hector Cuper and he was sensational.

He is the best moving target for Veron’s long passes, so it makes no sense to drop him unless you are a blueprint manager like Bielsa.

He likes players to fit into his system.

He plays Claudio and tells him to stay wide and he has a bad game, he takes him off, then drops him for the next game.

His 3-3-1-3 is a very successful system but it doesn’t suit Lopez, or Saviola, the kid he left behind.


I said in The Professor that his goal for Fiorentina against Arsenal at Wembley was the greatest goal I have ever seen in a one-goal game.

Batistuta has lost a yard since then but Sven says he is as immovable as a block of granite and he will start.

Myself, I believe England can handle Batistuta better than they could handle Crespo, who is much more agile and busy.

I’m sure everybody is previewed out by now.

I know I am. You sit down and try to write something a bit different to everyone else, but sometimes you don’t succeed in that.

I can’t say any more than this : I don’t fancy us. I just don’t fancy us at all in this game.

June 5th 2002.