The Gauntlet


Tough draw, solid talent

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Make no mistake, Argentina is the team to beat in 2002, as long as they make it out of their group.

Argentina got the most unfortunate draw in the tourney and landed a group with Nigeria, Sweden and England. While England shouldn't be a problem as the Argentinians torment them every four years, Sweden and Nigeria are no laughing matter. Both are among the world's elite and Argentina will face a tough road through group play.

There is no single dominant player (see Maradona, Diego) on the 2002 team, but instead there are many stars spread all over the pitch. Gabriel Batistuta and Hernan Crespo are among the world's best strikers and Juan Sebastian Veron will anchor a solid midfield.

Diego Simeone's injury is a major blow, but the Argentinians should do just fine with talented players like Ariel Ortega filling the void.

It would surprise no one if this team won the World Cup for the first time since 1986.