Football World Cup: Six players with the match-winning magic

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The Independent Online
ALAN SHEARER

JUST ONE goal in his three appearances so far has disappointed those who believed that only if Shearer did well could England achieve in France. Still the man that other countries fear most and you can bet that Argentina will put close shackles on him. Deadly on his right-side and in the air and will work all day. The Bulldog spirit burns fiercely in England's captain.

MICHAEL OWEN

HAS THE kind of explosive speed coveted by greyhounds and racehorses. Forced his way into the line-up through his ability to score out of nothing when appearing as a substitute against Romania, and has yet to be fazed by anything. Certainly will not lose sleep before the biggest test of his 18 years. The worry is that with Argentina's deep-lying defence, the areas he likes to accelerate into will be restricted.

DAVID BECKHAM

EXPERT AT set-pieces and in his crossing of the ball - strange then that in the first two games Glenn Hoddle preferred Darren Anderton in the right-sided wing position. Now supremely focused, he showed against Colombia with his first international goal that he has a big point to prove. Argentina will certainly be wary of conceding a free-kick within Beckham range.

GABRIEL BATISTUTA

ARGENTINA'S ALL-TIME record marksman, he has resumed good relations with the national coach, Daniel Passarella, who once sold Batistuta in club football, complaining he "had two left feet". Scored a hat-trick inside minutes against Jamaica and in either boot can carry too much power for goalkeepers. Has proved a consistent goalscorer in Italy with Fiorentina.

ARIEL ORTEGA

CARRIES THE burden of "the new Maradona" and has impressed those unaware of his nimble skills by the way he has created and scored goals. Will lurk behind Batistuta and quickly move up to add hsisupport. Short and mobile, his low centre of gravity enables him to get away from defenders. Showed with his goal against Jamaica that he can produce the unorthodox to get the ball into the net.

CLAUDIO LOPEZ

SCORED THE winning goal in the friendly game with Brazil in April which was enough to earn him the status of a likely dangerman before the tournament started. A strong left-sided player, he has been slow to come to life and began the Croatia game on the substitutes' bench. But talent will always out and maybe he is the kind of player that saves his best for the important occasion.

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