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Hoddle backs Argentina bid

13:00 09 June 2014

Former Tottenham midfielder Glenn Hoddle (back row, second from left) lines up with the England team before their 1986 World Cup quarter-final defeat against Argentina in Mexico (pic: Peter Robinson/EMPICS)

Former Tottenham midfielder Glenn Hoddle (back row, second from left) lines up with the England team before their 1986 World Cup quarter-final defeat against Argentina in Mexico (pic: Peter Robinson/EMPICS)

EMPICS Sport

Former England manager believes Messi can be key

Glenn Hoddle suffered at the hands of Argentina as a player and manager at the World Cup.

But the former Tottenham midfielder is backing Lionel Messi and Argentina to be victorious in Brazil this summer, saying the diminutive striker can finally eclipse Diego Maradona.

Hoddle represented the Three Lions during the 1986 finals, which Argentina won largely thanks to Maradona after his ‘Hand of God’ goal helped end English hopes in the quarter-finals.

Maradona added a stunning second effort in a 2-1 win and Hoddle believes Messi is in the right state to do the same this year.

“I think he [Messi] has had his mind on the World Cup for some time actually,” Hoddle said.

“I think he knows he needs to prove himself for Argentina to eclipse Maradona, who won the World Cup virtually on his own, and that will maybe drive him and Argentina over the line. That is a real challenge for him.”

Hoddle went on to manage England at the 1998 finals in France where they again suffered against Argentina.

David Beckham was sent off for kicking out at Diego Simeone and, after Michael Owen’s wonder goal in a 3-3 draw, the ten men lost out on penalties as Paul Ince and David Batty missed from the spot.

Hoddle thinks there is far less pressure on England this summer, but maintains that Roy Hodgson’s men must reach the quarter-finals for the tournament to have been a success.

“I think if we get to the quarter-finals think that will be excellent,” he added.

“When you are in the quarter-finals, anything can happen. It doesn’t mean you can’t go on and win it from there, but I think that will be enough of an experience for the youngsters to have dealt with.”

Having played in the heat of Mexico in 1986, Hoddle is well aware of the issues England’s players will face playing in Manaus.

The Amazonian city hosts their opening match against Italy where the temperature and humidity will be tortuous.

“There are going to be some challenges, particularly for the first game, but that’s a part of playing in the World Cup,” he said.

“It’s always played in the summer so you are always going to have to change your tactics a little bit to suit the conditions. Players will be challenged from that, no doubt about it.

“We played in altitude and heat in Mexico. The altitude isn’t quite the same in Brazil and is going to be a little bit cooler than it was in Mexico.

“Playing in 110 degrees and altitude was incredible. I remember losing 14lbs in one game!”

Current World and European champions Spain became the first European team to win the tournament outside of their home continent when they were victorious in South Africa.

But Hoddle thinks it will be too tough for them to be successful again in South America.

“There have been some really good European sides who have gone to South America and tried to win the World Cup, but no one has ever done it,” he said.

“There have been great Dutch, French, German and Italian teams, but not one has won it on the continent.”

Even if England do not meet expectations, Hoddle, who will be jetting out and working as a pundit during the tournament, is excited for it all to begin.

“Brazil is a special place to have the World Cup,” he added.

“There is always something else that happens, new players who hit the world scene, or individual skills that come out of it - things that we’ve not seen before. I am looking forwards to it.”

*Glenn Hoddle was speaking at the Continental Road to Rio Roadshow.

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