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   June 5, 2002 | 2020 IST



France get the blues

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Simeone avoids talk about Beckham

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Diego Simeone skipped through questions about David Beckham on Wednesday the way Ariel Ortega skips past World Cup defenders.

"Everyone is allowed to speak, say what he believes to be right. Beckham's opinion is to be respected, that's all," Simeone replied to the England captain's warning to his team to be wary of "cunning" Argentine tricks.

Argentina and England resume long-standing soccer hostilities in their group F match in Sapporo on Friday.

Simeone said he did not "want to get drawn into that game," the war of words that often precedes matches between the two countries. "I believe in fair play," he added with a cheeky grin.

"The Beckham thing is a journalistic game. I don't want to be anybody's monkey," he said.

Simeone's reaction to a kick by Beckham helped get the England player sent off during their second round meeting in the 1998 finals in France. He said the Argentine/England clashes had an extra spice and were great confrontations.

"I love playing them but I'd also love to see (Friday's match) on TV," he said. "It's going to be nice to watch.

"It's become a classic with an intensity all of its own. There are more things (involved) than the result," he added.

"(In 1998) it was a superb match, Argentina had the first 15 minutes, then the next 20 were theirs and that's when we could have lost it," he said.

Argentina came back from 2-1 down to equalise just before halftime. The 2-2 stalemate lasted to the end of extra time despite Beckham's 48th-minute dismissal, and Argentina won on penalties.


Simeone said he was not worried if he was shown another yellow card after picking one up against Nigeria.

"You have to give your all. With (Matias) Almeyda and (Claudio) Husain there are good players who can step in.

"The difference (of this team) with other teams is the people who don't play," he said referring to Argentina's strength in depth.

Simeone listed England's strengths as "dead ball situations, aerial play, team play, Beckham's middle distance (shots), the defence with (Rio) Ferdinand and that young midfielder of Bayern Munich (Owen Hargreaves).

"The ideal is for us to exert control in their half," he said, adding that England would want to defend deeper and hit back on the break.

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