Carragher draws on Liverpool's unlikely triumph

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The Independent Online

A day in the company of his wife and two young children meant Jamie Carragher missed the statement of intent delivered so imperiously by Argentina on Friday, but it was not through ignorance that he declared England unperturbed by their mastery and still confident of winning the World Cup yesterday.

Uncertain starts in tournaments where more adventurous rivals have caught the eye is not a new experience for the Liverpool defender, nor is ultimately emerging victorious from them. His glory in the 2005 European Cup (pictured right) provides ample support to the theory that a competition is not decided in its formative stages, or even with a 3-0 interval lead in the final, and it is the reason he can hold his nerve despite England's poor performances in Germany.

"We have a better chance of winning the World Cup than Liverpool had of winning the Champions' League," he stated emphatically. "No disrespect to our players at Liverpool, but we were 70 or 80-1 to win it at one stage and yet we won it. That shows you what can be done and I think we've got a better chance with England of winning the World Cup."

Liverpool, like England, endured an anxious opening to that European Cup campaign and were minutes from exiting at the group stage when Steven Gerrard delivered one of his many rescue acts against Olympiakos. Unlike Liverpool, England secured their passage with a game to spare. Carragher added: "If you played in a league maybe Brazil and Argentina would finish top, but it's not a league, it's a cup. Look at Italy against America on Saturday; a sending-off changed the game. Italy went 1-0 up, America equalised and then the sending-off changed the whole game. The game changed on a couple of decisions and that's what happens in knock-out football."

With Gary Neville hindered by a calf problem, Carragher will retain his place at right-back against Sweden tomorrow, despite his early substitution against Trinidad & Tobago. "I thought it was a good substitution. There wasn't much defending for me to do and David Beckham is a much better crosser of the ball," he acknowledged, and will not alter his conviction in England's final prospects even if Sven Goran Eriksson's side flatter to deceive once more.

"We realise Argentina are playing at the top of their game and we are not playing at the top of ours but sometimes at World Cups you don't want to peak too early and that's not to say we're deliberately not playing well," he argued. "It will have been great for their confidence, but maybe they have peaked too early. That's what we're hoping anyway.

"I've watched every game but when my kids came up the other day I missed probably the two best games of the tournament so far - Argentina-Serbia and Holland-Ivory Coast - although I did see the highlights. All the lads are football fans and we were just talking about how good it was to see Argentina playing that well. We knew they were a top side and if we're going to win the World Cup, we are going to have to beat top sides.

"Hopefully we are building towards our best form. We want to get better each game and hopefully we won't peak too early."

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