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Last Updated: Wednesday, 26 April 2006, 16:13 GMT 17:13 UK
Legend Matthaus fears England win
Lothar Matthaus
Matthaus won a record 150 caps for his country
Germany legend Lothar Matthaus has tipped England to beat the 2006 World Cup hosts if they meet in the tournament's knockout stages.

Germany could face England or Sweden in the last 16 if they progress.

Matthaus, who was West Germany's 1990 World Cup winning captain, said: "I think Germany will get past the first round as they have an easy group.

"But England or Sweden are likely to be the next opponents in the last 16 and I think that could be a bridge too far."

Rooney could be the outstanding young player of the World Cup
Lothar Matthaus

Matthaus added: "We don't have the quality of players to match England, Argentina, Holland, Italy, Portugal or even Croatia."

The former German international midfielder believes England's current strength has a lot to do with Paul Robinson's emergence as a top-class goalkeeper.

"Robinson can make the difference between this World Cup and the last two big tournaments," said Matthaus.

"You can have a good team but you will struggle to get to the final if you do not have a good keeper.

"England are my favourites from Europe. They have great players - Wayne Rooney could be the outstanding young player of the World Cup, and then there is Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard and David Beckham."

Matthaus also predicted Brazil's defence would be too weak to allow them to capture a sixth World Cup.

"I would say Argentina are the strongest team outside Europe. As a team they are very compact, and have very good players all round.

"Brazil's defence is a big problem - they do not have the quality there to win the title and they might even have a problem getting out of their group.

"They have to face Australia, who have a good coach in Guus Hiddink, who has sorted their problems out.

"They have to play Japan who drew 2-2 with them in the Confederations Cup and whose coach is Zico and knows all about Brazilian football; then they have Croatia who have caused them problems in their last two friendlies."


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