Football: Shearer: 'Bring on Argentina'

ALAN SHEARER provided further indication that England's self-belief is fast recovering from the battering it received at the hands of Romania by predicting that Tuesday's second-round match against Argentina in St Etienne holds no fears for Glenn Hoddle's three lions.

"The belief in the squad is such that the quicker the game with Argentina comes along, the better as far we are concerned," he said. "That's how everyone feels. Argentina are one of the favourites for the competition and we will certainly have to be at our best because they are one of the favourites - if not the favourites - to win the trophy.

"I rate them highly on the evidence of their win against Croatia on Friday and their previous two performances in the competition. But I think we proved against Colombia that on our day we are a match for anyone. I would put that performance on a par with our winning against Poland in the qualifying competition just over 12 months ago. Another display like that against Argentina will do just fine.

"People ask if I was disappointed that we didn't get Croatia instead but it's irrelevant who we play. If we are going to win this competition then we are going to have to beat the best side somewhere along the line.

"We have confidence in our ability and I genuinely believe that whoever wins Tuesday's game will have one hell of a chance to go and lift the World Cup. I really believe that."

First, England and Shearer must combat the finishing skills of Gabriel Batistuta, who has scored four goals in the tournament. Shearer said: "Batistuta is certainly one of the world's best strikers. It goes without saying that we will have to keep an eye on him or he will punish us.

"But it was encouraging that we created so many opportunities against Columbia and from David Seaman right through to the front players everybody was tuned in both mentally and physically."

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