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Wednesday, 22 May, 2002, 07:43 GMT 08:43 UK
Bielsa fine tunes side
Argentina coach Marcelo Bielsa talks to Diego Simeone, Nelson Vivas, Javier Zanetti and Walter Samuel during a training session
Simeone, Zanetti and Samuel are set to start

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Argentine media has speculated that coach Marcelo Bielsa has defined most of the team that will start in their opening World Cup game against Nigeria on 2 June.

The Argentines took part in a tactical training session on Tuesday in Naraha, Japan for the first time since the team was completely assembled last week.

Bielsa - whose 23-man squad announcement did not throw up any surprises - lined up a team with several probable starters against a mix of reserves and Under-20s that played the same way as Nigeria.

According to the Argentine media, at least six of the players that took part on Tuesday's practice are certain to start the match against Nigeria.

They are defenders Mauricio Pocchettino, Roberto Ayala and Walter Samuel, right-winger Javier Zanetti and midfielders Juan Sebastian Veron and Diego Simeone.

This number would be seven if winger Juan Pablo Sorin had not stayed out of the pitch to do some fitness exercises.

In goal, it seems that Celta's Cavallero has some advantage over Atletico Madrid's German Burgos, but both have chances to be the first choice.

Argentina captain Juan Sebastian Veron
Veron has a key role in starting line-up

On the right side of midfield, the favourites are Ariel Ortega and Claudio Caniggia, if the Rangers forward is fit.

But Valencia's Pablo Aimar could also be an option, according to media reports. The centre forward may be either Gabriel Batistuta or Hernan Crespo.

Reporters say that, if both are fit, the Roma striker has a slight advantage over his younger colleague in coach Bielsa's plans.

Neither Batistuta nor Crespo took part in the training session on Tuesday.

Finally, the other forward, who will play wide on the left, is most likely to be Valencia's Kily Gonzalez, but his position is threatened by former team-mate Claudio Lopez.


Argentina World Cup squad:

Goalkeepers: German Burgos (Atletico Madrid), Pablo Cavallero (Celta), Roberto Bonano (Barcelona)

Defenders: Jose Chamot (AC Milan), Walter Samuel (Roma), Mauricio Pochettino (Paris Saint Germain), Diego Placente (Bayer Leverkusen), Roberto Ayala (Valencia)

Midfielders: Diego Simeone (Lazio), Javier Zanetti (Inter Milan), Marcelo Gallardo (Monaco), Claudio Husain (Napoli), Juan Sebastian Veron (Manchester United), Matias Almeyda (Parma), Cristian Gonzales (Valencia), Pablo Aimar (Valencia), Gustavo Lopez (Celta), Juan Pablo Sorin (Cruzeiro)

Forwards: Gabriel Batistuta (Roma), Hernan Crespo (Lazio), Ariel Ortega (River Plate), Claudio Lopez (Lazio), Claudio Caniggia (Rangers).

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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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