Glenn Hoddle: Why I'm backing Argentina
The Former England Manager continues his blog from Brazil.
My old pal Ossie Ardiles gets touchy when you tell him playing in Brazil is a big advantage for Argentina. He is having none of it.
“They hate us – every Brazilian will want us to lose,” Ossie told me just before I flew out here. And he is probably right.
He’d know too; Ossie has a World Cup winners’ medal - he knows I know he has one even though he's far too modest to keep going on about it - and he definitely knows what it takes to earn one.
But they are still my choice to win the gold trophy. As I write, Williamhill.com has them at 4/1 – how’s that for a Hod’s Odds tip?
Argentina have been my England nemesis as player AND manager.
I played in the ‘Hand of God’ game in ’86 and then they knocked out my England side in ’98 on pens. We were unlucky on both occasions.
Maradona was amazing despite the handball goal – his second goal was breath-taking. I was lucky to play with him in Ossie’s testimonial a year or so later. What a player.
Then came ’98.
Even when we went down to 10-men when David Beckham was sent off, I still felt we were much the better side despite that handicap, and should have won with the Golden Goal.
I still have no idea why the referee disallowed Sol Campbell’s header.
Finally we lost on those dreaded penalties! Diego Simeone was the player involved with Beckham on that day, and it’s interesting to see how he has emerged as a top coach in Spain.
So yes, me and Argentina haven’t always ‘got along’. But I see quality in their current crop – certainly enough to win it for the first time in 28 years.
Lionel Messi has had a relatively quiet season by his own extraordinary standards but he could be the absolute star in Brazil. The stage is set for him, especially as they have arguably the easiest group of the lot to get through – Iran, Bosnia and Nigeria.
Who’s to say he won’t score in every group game?
My only concern about Argentina is that sometimes they peak too early in tournaments, but I think they are very good prospects to win it.
No European side has ever won in South America, and I cannot see it happening in Brazil.
Spain might be Europe’s best chance and I would only put their chances at around 20% so you can imagine where I would put England’s!
I said yesterday the pressure is on Brazil and I don’t think they will handle it, although winning last night is a big hurdle overcome. Their arch rivals from the south will be waiting in the shadows for them to slip up and take full advantage.
And I expect them to do so by lifting the trophy in Rio on Sunday July 13…
*Glenn Hoddle is part of the star-studded ITV team for the World Cup, while he is also a leading pundit with Sky.