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Friday, 29 March, 2002, 12:25 GMT
Argentina's road to the finals
Herman Crespo, Juan Veron and other Argentina players
Crespo, the most expensive player in Italy, is a national star
BBC Sport Online assesses the progress of the irrepressible Argentina side to the World Cup final.

For some time, the two top football sides in South America have been Brazil and Argentina.

The notoriously bitter rivalry between the two sides will continue for years to come.

But Argentina certainly proved they are the masters of qualification by heading the group table for the 2002 World Cup.

Route to the finals
W 4-1 Chile (h)
W 4-0 Venezuela (a)
W 1-0 Bolivia (h)
W 3-1 Columbia (a)
W 2-0 Ecuador (h)
L 3-1 Brazil (a)
D 1-1 Paraguay (h)
W 2-1 Peru (a)
W 2-1 Uruguay (h)
W 2-0 Chile (a)
W 5-0 Venezuela (h)
D 3-3 Bolivia (a)
W 3-0 Columbia (h)
W 2-0 Ecuador (a)
W 2-1 Brazil (h)
D 2-2 Paraguay (a)
W 2-0 Peru (h)
D 1-1 Uruguay (a)

As for the rivalry, the two sides split the games played in the group, with Brazil winning 3-1 at home and Argentina gaining 2-1 success in the return.

The defeat in Brazil was the only setback Argentina suffered on their route to the finals.

They won 13 of their 18 games and were 12 points ahead of their nearest challengers, Ecuador.

That they achieved such results is all the more impressive considering that most of the individual players ply their trade in Europe.

There is no doubt that the top Argentina team on paper will be a match for any side in Korea and Japan.

Gabriel Batistuta, Pablo Aimar, Herman Crespo and Juan Sebastian Veron are all considered among the best players in the world and it will be major surprise if Argentina fail to reach the last eight.

However, their strike formation in Japan and Korea is uncertain.

Batistuta has been left out of several internationals during the last year, and Crespo's World Cup preparations have been hampered by an ankle injury.


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GROUP F
  P GD PTS
SWEDEN 3 +1 5
ENGLAND 3 +1 5
ARGENTINA 3 0 4
NIGERIA 3 -2 1

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