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Last Updated: Tuesday, 23 May 2006, 06:34 GMT 07:34 UK
Brazil hero tips England to shine
By Andrew Benson

Carlos Alberto
Carlos Alberto says England have the players to do well in Germany
England will be a force at the World Cup even if Wayne Rooney does not recover from a broken foot, Brazil legend Carlos Alberto told BBC Sport.

"England can be one of the favourites to win the World Cup," said Alberto, captain of Brazil's 1970 winning side.

"They have very good players and a good team. I don't know how the coach will face the problem of Rooney but England have good experience."

But the ex-Azerbaijan coach said the fitness of Michael Owen was key.

Alberto said "it would be a very big problem" if England were without both Rooney and Owen.

Like Rooney, Owen is recovering from a broken foot, but is making good progress and is expected to be fit for the tournament, which starts on 9 June.

Alberto was coach of Azerbaijan when England played the Asian nation in the qualifying stages.

Brazil coach Carlos Alberto Parreira
This is the best English national team I have seen since 1966
Carlos Alberto Parreira
Brazil coach

In an exclusive interview with BBC Sport, he said as many as seven teams could win the tournament, naming "Portugal, Italy, Holland, the Czech Republic, and Germany of course because they play at home".

But he said Brazil were strong favourites to retain their title in what he expected to be "the best World Cup ever" in terms of the quality of the teams.

His views on England and the competitiveness of Germany 2006 are echoed by Brazil's current coach, Carlos Alberto Parreira, who said England have their best chance to win the World Cup since 1966.

In another exclusive interview with BBC Sport, Carlos Alberto Parreira said: "This is the best English national team I have seen since 1966."

Parreira said as many as eight teams could win in Germany this summer.

"Brazil is not the only favourite. You have to consider Germany, England, France, Holland, Italy, Czech Republic and Portugal," said the 63-year-old.

With the three weeks preparation we are going to have, they are going to be OK
Carlos Alberto Parreira on worries about the form of Brazil's players
"I believe this World Cup is going to be different. There are going to be at least eight national teams, that if they became champions, it would not be a surprise for anybody."

Parreira and Alberto did not mention Brazil's arch-rivals Argentina, who are also considered by many to be among the strongest sides.

Brazil are the hot favourites to win their second consecutive World Cup - and their sixth in all.

But there have been claims the team is not as strong as it appears on paper.

Brazil have the world's greatest player in Ronaldinho, as well as Milan's highly-rated playmaker Kaka, to supply two of the world's most feared strikers - Ronaldo and Adriano.

But there are worries about Ronaldo's fitness, Adriano's temperament, and the form of much of the team's defence.

Left-back Roberto Carlos has come in for heavy criticism after some poor displays for Real Madrid, while fellow defender Roque Junior is absent through injury.

Brazil and Real Madrid striker Ronaldo
Ronaldo's form and fitness has been a concern
And goalkeeper Dida, who plays for Milan, has been accused of developing a tendency to flap.

But Parreira said he was not worried about the form of his players, and was confident any problems would be sorted out in their pre-World Cup training camp.

"We have to consider the World Cup itself," said Parreira, who travelled to Europe to watch the Champions League semi-finals, in which several of his squad were playing.

"People were saying Dida was very bad, he could not play. But I came back from Barcelona and Dida was the best player in the ground.

"With the three weeks preparation we are going to have, they are going to be OK. They have the experience and the willingness to be in the World Cup."

SEE ALSO
Why are Brazil so good?
20 May 06 |  Brazil
World Cup warm-up games
27 Apr 06 |  Brazil
Brazil team guide
27 Apr 06 |  Brazil
England team guide
27 Apr 06 |  England
Beckenbauer backs England hopes
03 Feb 06 |  World Cup 2006
Legend Pele rates England chances
12 Dec 05 |  World Cup 2006
Rooney 'making perfect recovery'
22 May 06 |  England


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