England and Argentina resume one of world football’s great rivalries in Pachuca on Thursday as they fight it out for a berth in the quarter-finals at Mexico 2011. With so much at stake, England’s unbeaten record in the group phase and Argentina’s travails will count for little when the whistle sounds on what is sure to be a keenly contested encounter.
England-Argentina, Thursday 30 June, Pachuca, 15.00 (local time)
Despite relinquishing a two-goal lead against Canada, England have been in convincing from at Mexico 2011. In winning their group, John Peacock’s side went unbeaten, conceding just those two goals against the Canadians and scoring six, all from different players.
In contrast Argentina have looked anything but impressive, their problems compounded by their late arrival in Mexico. Struggling to recapture the form that took them through to the finals, they were overwhelmed by France and brushed aside by Japan, defeats that sandwiched the win over Jamaica that eventually clinched them a place in the last 16. In spite of their struggles, the Argentinians’ pedigree means they cannot be discounted.
7 - The number of times the two countries have faced off in FIFA competitions. Five of those games have come in the FIFA World Cup™, with the English having won three and drawn one. The remaining two matches both came at U-20 level, where the Argentinians have the edge with a win and a draw.
“We need to keep our performance levels up for the next game. It’s exciting for us to play Argentina, what with all the history surrounding the game. There’s something special about matches like this and obviously we want to win it,” England forward Max Clayton.
“We know it’s a special game but things won’t go well if we’re feeling under pressure or nervous. They defend well so the key will be to keep the ball from them. If we can control possession, spaces will open up eventually,” Argentina midfielder Brian Ferreira.