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Argentina and France set to turn on the style

So, here we are. The World Cup dawns. The next few weeks will reveal all.

The favourites will be France and Argentina. No other country has the quality in their side that these two teams possess. Argentina may just have the physical edge over France but France seem the side that is most imbued with talent and experience.

A few weeks ago, questions were being raised about the quality and age of the French defence but as the tournament has approached, Marcel Desailly and goalkeeper Fabien Barthez have steadily improved, as if peaking for Japan and South Korea.

Behind France and Argentina, the next best are Italy and Brazil. Italy are always high-class although whether there is sufficient genius in the team remains to be seen.

The Brazilians always have genius but whether it decides to surface in the coming month – and whether their coach will play a style that encourages it is another matter.

England have been hampered by a late run of injuries, possibly worse than any other World Cup side has had to endure. And what of Germany? Traditionally so strong, the Germans lost a recent friendly to Wales.

“We have hit rock bottom,” said Germany legend Gunter Netzer. “Things can only get better.” In which case, watch out.

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