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   June 5, 2002 | 2035 IST



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Kily to replace Claudio vs England

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Argentina are expected to make one change for their World Cup showdown against England in Sapporo on Friday.

Claudio Lopez, who started in Sunday's 1-0 win over Nigeria in Ibaraki, is likely to make way for forward Kily Gonzalez, who replaced him in the second half at the Kashima Stadium.

Striker Gabriel Batistuta, who scored the goal that gave Argentina a winning start, should retain his place leading the attack, keeping rival Hernan Crespo on the bench.

But captain Roberto Ayala, who failed to take the field against Nigeria after pulling a thigh muscle warming up, will not be risked.

Coach Marcelo Bielsa rearranged his defence with Diego Placente coming in on the left of the back three and Walter Samuel moving into the sweeper's position in place of Ayala.

It was a virtually seamless adjustment in a squad with a lot of quality in reserve but Argentina would have preferred Ayala's experience against England's fast strikers.

Argentina, who will field five players who faced England in their 1998 World Cup second round clash in France, have a wide range of scoring options.

Left wing-back Juan Pablo Sorin almost scored what would have been a fine goal against Nigeria, ghosting into the box to chest the ball down and volley it just over.

Gonzalez, who plays directly in front of Sorin on the left, is likely to be preferred to Lopez due to his dangerous diagonal runs and greater commitment to pressing the opposition.

"With Claudio we get more depth (in attack), but Kily provides Sorin's runs with more penetration, he's more of a midfielder," anchorman Diego Simeone said.


Veterans of the 1998 World Cup Javier Zanetti, as right wing-back, and Ariel Ortega in front of him will be looking to break down the flank towards the opposition defence with a mixture of runs to the goal line or mazy incursions into the box.

Ortega is a scoring option on the right and his dribbling skills could trouble the England defence as they did in 1998 when he inspired Argentina to fight back after they went 2-1 down in the opening 16 minutes of the match at St Etienne.

Simeone should keep his place in the centre of midfield, supporting playmaker and stand-in captain Juan Sebastian Veron.

Veron confirmed how dangerous he is from dead ball situations as he fed a corner to the far post for Batistuta to head the winner against Nigeria. Other chances Veron created went begging.

The defence have been working hard to counter the frailty of the 1998 side against real pace and notably the sort of goal they conceded to Michael Owen in St Etienne.

"We've got to watch the runs of (Emile) Heskey, who's a big guy, from the left and Owen, who's small and fast (on the right), plus the runs of (Paul) Scholes through the middle. We're prepared to play (the England attack) the two ways," Simeone said.

Pablo Cavallero, a reserve in 1998, is expected to remain between the posts after a competent World Cup debut against Nigeria even if he looked uncomfortable with some crosses, a weakness England could exploit.

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