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The Irish Oracle's guide to the next World Cup Matches

Welcome to the definitive World Cup guide. Forget everything you've seen or heard before now, the Irish Oracle is all-seeing and all-knowing, and not open to discussion on this. Today sees 3 excellent games being fought out with some genuine contenders for the Cup in action. The highlight game is Argentina v England, and that's where we'll start.


No love lost between these two, and that sets it up as a great encounter for all spectators and full-time pommie-bashers. Argentina were responsible for knocking England out of the last World Cup in France in '98 in a controversial game, however England were guilty of destroying half the Argentinian navy during the Falklands war, and so this provides an excellent backdrop to tonight's game.

Argentina are the deserved favourites, and indeed tournament favourites, and should be able to account for a young English team that put in a mixed performance against Sweden. Apart from the sheer class they have in every position on the pitch the Argentinians have just as much quality on the bench and herein lies their strength. Any team that can afford to leave a player like Hernan Jorge Crespo on the bench has to be taken seriously.

The Argentines typically play a 3-5-2 formation which means that they are always looking to attack in numbers. This formation does however make them susceptible to a quick counter-attack that sometimes leads to a 3 on 3 situation which favours the attacker. The Argentines won't be too bothered as their attitude is one of scoring more goals than are scored against them. It normally works well when you have all the best players in the world in one team.

England have a very industrious team and play to the traditional 4-4-2 formation. This is recognised as the most stable formation but relies heavily on the fitness and speed of the midfielders to get forward and support the attack. Man for man the England team will be stronger but Argentina will possess more skill and pace about the field.


It is hard to look past Gabriel Batistuta, the goal scoring dynamo from Roma, but other players in the Argentine team to watch for are Javier Zanetti and Ariel Ortega.

In the England team I would expect the English defence to be under extreme pressure throughout so Rio Ferdinand and Sol Campbell will be vital but I think the one to watch for England will be Michael Owen, whose wonder goal against them in the last World Cup will still be fresh in the minds of the Argentinian camp.


Spain v Paraguay will be another thriller as Paraguay were responsible for Spain's exit from the last World Cup. Spain will be looking to avenge that defeat but will remain cautious of Paraguay. These two fiery, testosterone-enhanced, Latin types will have no fear of each other and that is always a good recipe for paella or a good game of soccer.

Spain the great underachievers of the tournament have started well and will look to build on that against Paraguay. They play an attacking 4-4-2 formation and there are some question marks over the pace of their defence. Paraguay on the other hand have a solid defence but only one real threat in attack through their star player Roque Santa Cruz. This may prove to be a case of which defence breaks first, and we can only hope for an early goal that will force the game to open up.


An ever present threat for both Spain and Real Madrid, Raul, will be lurking around the box constantly waiting for any opportunity. Hierro, the captain and Luis Enrique, should both figure prominently. For Paraguay the undoubted star and the main threat will come from Roque Santa Cruz, however the captain Celso Ayala, may also have an influence in this game.


Not to be outdone by the limelight surrounding the other fixtures, the wise Oracle reckons this will be a humdinger of a game to start the day's proceedings. The Oracle fancies Sweden to progress to the second round, not because he has money on it, but they will be encouraged from their performance against England.

Nigeria on the other hand were made to look ordinary by Argentina, but then most teams would be. You can be sure that this game will be as tight as a Pamela Anderson pre-nuptial agreement, but I fancy Sweden to advance. The goal posts probably come from IKEA, so they'll feel right at home.


Freddie Ljundberg and Henrik Larsson should be the main players for Sweden. Hard to tell who to look out for on the Nigerian team, but the Oracle reckons Jay Jay Okocha, and Julius Aghahowa will provide the Nigerian thrust.

No matter what happens the Irish Oracle insists that moderation be pushed aside for today and everybody get into the beer excessively and enjoy the day. Remember don't drink and drive.

Fri 07/06/2002 The Irish oracle 37 views

3 Comments about this article

  • Empty your cupboards of wisdom Oracle, and lay down your World Cup predictions. I'm tipping an Argentina v France final.

    Posted by Dean Budha woodbury Thu Jun 13, 2002 01:08pm AEST
  • Ouch Budha. Guess that prediction is for 2006 ???

    Posted by Henry "h" vaughan Fri Jun 14, 2002 07:11am AEST
  • Mate, your on the ball!! Ive got $5 on the TAB for em to win. Thats $255 pocketed. There's a prediction.

    Posted by Matt Turner Sun Jun 16, 2002 05:00am AEST

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