Pierre Boisrond

Pierre Boisrond has followed soccer and the World Cup closely for many years and also writes for other websites. We at PWC are proud to have him as a columnist. He will share his views about the past, present and future of the World Cup.

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Battle of the Giants: Veron vs Beckham - Part II

    On June 7, 2002 the world will be watching this battle that started in 1986. In 1986, we saw the hand of God of Maradona that sent Lineker packing for London. In 1990, Germany prevented Lineker to avenge the loss against Maradona. In 1998, it was again the same story, but this time Diego Simeone had the better of David Beckham and needless to say that England again had to pack their bags for London.

    If Veron and Beckham want to be the world footballer of the year for 2002, then this is their chance to do it. Beckham seems to want that match-up so he can avenge the 1998 defeat in France. Great players do rise to the occasion. Will it be Veron or will it be Beckham? They both play on the same team, Manchester United. But in June, they'll become rivals. Beckham wanted that match-up as he stated. I wonder if the England fans expect to see that match too early. I doubt it. But, it is good for both teams since they may not have to pack their bags after the game.

    Both teams do have excellent players. However, Argentina seem to have excellent players in every position; even those on the bench are world class players. That day, the match-up clearly will be Veron vs Beckham. Who will be the best player of the world in 2002? This player can clearly come out of these two teams. Veron stated during this whole year that Argentina is a prime candidate to win this world cup. Veron knows that this is his chance and the loss against Netherlands in 1998 will give him an extra incentive to go after the world title. On the other hand, Beckham who was the villain in France 1998 will be ready to redeem himself against Diego Simeone and the England press. It might not be an easy task for the England's skipper. This Argentina team is the best I've seen since 1978. Ok, let's analyse both teams.

    If Beckham is the conductor of the England Orchestra, then Veron surpasses the conductor role for Argentina. If Beckham is out for England then who will be the conductor for the men of Erikson. On the other hand, If Veron is out for Argentina, then Marcelo Bielsa can go to Gallardo, Riquelme, Aimar,etc. Up front, we can say that Owen will cause a major headache for the Argentine defenders. We have seen him in France 98 and he is playing very well at this very moment. I do believe that Walter Samuel will put the stop on Michael Owen. Argentina's defense is very experienced with Vivas, Ayala, and Samuel, the iron man. Actually, Pasarella claimed that Samuel is much better than him. Samuel already proves that he is among the top three defenders in the world at this point. By saying this, one could see that the strikers for England must come with their best against a superb Argentine defense.

    The Argentine strikers will be a major headache for the England defenders. Gabriel Omar Batistuta, Hernan Crespo, and Claudio Lopez can become a nightmare for the squad of Erikson. Will the England defense rise to the expectations? We'll have to see. But again, Batistuta knows that June 2002 will be his last chance to crown himself as world champion. There will be some great individual match-ups. But, we all know that the battle has to start in midfield -- and the team that controls this part of the field most likely will win the match.

    On the issue of Veron vs Beckham, this will be settled On June 7 and this grandiose scene shall take place in the Sapporo stadium. The Manchester United duo won't be able to settle this in their club even though we all know that Veron would like to conduct the Manchester United orchestra which Beckham is now doing. Thus if England have to beat Argentina then Beckham must have a majestic game. If not, the English internationals might find themselves on their way back to London. No matter what happens, we all know that England or Argentina might face France in the second round. I don't think England would like to face France in the second round.

    Clearly this is the Group of death. With Nigeria and Sweden, we know that Nigeria is not going to make it easy for any team in this group. As far as Argentina is concerned, they need to be very careful in their first game against an excellent Nigerian team. In 1990, in their opening match, Argentina lost against Cameroon with a goal from Francois Oman Biyik. In 1982, Argentina lost in their opening match against Belgium with a goal by Erwin van den Bergh. May history not repeat itself for the Albiceleste -- since this team is set to make history. But first, they need to take care of Nigeria and face the England of the majestic Beckham and the impressive Michael Owen.

    In 1998, England made a crucial mistake by losing to Romania thus causing them to be second in their group and therefore face an Argentina team conducted by the superstar, Juan Veron. Well, this time the battle for the first place could be very difficult for the men of Erikson. Any team that comes second in this group will definitely face France. It would have been better for England not to face France. For Argentina, they are ready to make a statement. Batigol has one objective in mind and that is to win his first and last World Cup. To be the best, one has to beat the World Champions. It would be great to see Argentina vs France in the second round. Well, this is sad, but it might happen. The objective is that the men of Bielsa are mentally and technically ready to take on anyone. As a columnist, I definitely believe that this Argentina team will be very difficult to beat. In the second game against Brasil in the South American qualifiers, Argentina showed why they are the best team now in the world. But again, to make history, the players need to produce it on the field.

    Soccer fans, let's start to rejoice since we are about to witness history. We will see for sure Argentina vs England -- or a possible France-England or Argentina-France in the second round. For Nigeria or Sweden, they might try to cause an upset, but we shall see. It's time for the Verons, the Beckhams, the Owens, the Crespos, the Rivaldos, The Figos, the Rauls, the Okochas, the Batistutas, the Larssons, the Tottis, the Keanes, the Ronaldos, the Barthez, the Seamans, the Toldos, the Chilaverts, the Reynas, the Wanchopes, the Recobas, the Kanus, the Rui Costas and many other superstars, to drive their country to the big dance.

    The Argentine fans, English fans, and the French fans would have to brace themselves for an early exit. Will it be Argentina, France or England? We shall see. The pressure is on England's side. But England can make history. Will Beckham do it like he did against Greece? Will the England skipper be able to match against Zinedine Zidane and Juan Veron? We shall see. I can guarantee you that Argentina learned from the disappointment in 1994 and 1998. This team is ready to make history. Remember my saying on June 30th 2002.

    May every fan in the world enjoy this grandiose celebration. May every country put their difference aside and participate fully to a peaceful World Cup. May the eyes of God watch over this celebration and the word. From Antigua to Zimbabwe, let's be ready and enjoy this World Cup.



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