England prepare for friendly against Argentina

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/images/thumbnail/ver1/F/Football.jpg' class='caption'> England have been in buoyant mood at their Manchester training camp this week.

Updated: February 25, 2007 10:53 IST
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England have been in buoyant mood at their Manchester training camp this week, safe in the knowledge that their spot was booked to the World Cup last month, while other high profile countries are battling it out in qualifying play-offs this weekend. But while this Saturday's match against Argentina is classed as a friendly, one senses that the rivalry between the two teams will produce a highly competitive fixture. And whenever these teams clash, Michael Owen is sure to be one of the main points of interest, given that he burst onto the international scene with a wonder goal in their sudden-death contest at France '98. "Yeah that was obviously a highlight of my career - so early on in my life, it was fantastic. A lot has happened since then, thankfully I'm still here, and still in the England squad and team, and it was a special night. Unfortunately it wasn't capped off by us squeezing through on penalties but it was certainly a great game to be part of," said Owen. Good outfit The teams also met at the 2002 World Cup, with England winning one-nil thanks to a David Beckham penalty. "I've got a lot of history, and there's a few more guys with history with Argentina, you know it's a special game. They've crept back up there and they're a good outfit, and you've got to be ready for them, because they're a good team. "They came top of their group so they're definitely one of the favourites to win the competition, and for us it's a great game - neutral ground and to get a win would be really good. It's good to kind of kick-off and play those kind of countries, because you're going to meet them in the latter stages of the competition, so you've got to know what you're doing," said Sol Campbell, England defender. Sven-Goran Eriksson will field a strong line-up with Owen partnering Wayne Rooney in attack, while Ledley King will anchor a midfield, which includes the regular three of David Beckham, Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard, but once again defence provides the only real selection dilemma. Mutual respect Chelsea captain John Terry will be a certain starter in central defence, but Rio Ferdinand and Sol Campbell seem to be battling it out with each other to partner him. Campbell explained how the players deal with competition within the squad. "I think all of us have got mutual respect for each other, you know we all want the same thing and that is to play. But we've got to kind of realise that it's going to come down to the manager, what we he goes, I mean we're all kind of relaxed about the situation, but of-course I want to play and the other guys want to play," said Sol Campbell. After his year on the bench with Real Madrid, Owen is now a certain starter up front for England following his return to the Premier League with Newcastle, where he's already starting to find the net regularly. Neutral ground And while England have notoriously not placed much emphasis on getting results in friendlies, it seems that victory against Argentina on Saturday is high on the priority list. "Well it would be nice to win, it would certainly give us the confidence and belief to go into a World Cup. I mean after this game there's only three more games before we play our first game in the World Cup, so every game takes on more and more importance now, and yeah, a message to everyone else if we could win, that we've beaten a top team on a neutral ground, and it's going to be neutral in Germany. And, as I say, confidence is a big factor as well," said Owen. England have now flown to Switzerland with a fully-fit 23 man squad, and the countdown is on for another showdown with Argentina. (AP)

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