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Wednesday, 19 June, 2002, 22:07 GMT 23:07 UK

Lesser of two evils?

By Rodrigo Amaral
BBC Sport Online

It is not an easy time to be an Argentina supporter.

And it is going to get worse, as Argentines now face a huge dilemma.

Should they support one of their most bitter rivals to help prevent another from reaching the semi-final of the World Cup?

The clash between England and Brazil on Friday is a worse-case scenario for any Argentina fan.

" Many Argentines will support England because if Brazil win, they can go on and win their fifth World Cup title and that would be very hard to swallow "
Argentina's Ole newspaper

On one side will be the team that were responsible for Argentina's expulsion in the group stages and with whom they have a history of rivalry on and off the pitch.

On the other will be their big neighbours and most traditional football rivals, whose supporters celebrated Argentina's elimination as if Brazil had already won the World Cup.

Clearly one side will be knocked out, but at what price for Argentines?

Either Brazil or England will then be extremely well-placed to lift the trophy..

The hard choice is reflected in the results of polls held by Argentine newspapers Clarin, La Nacion and Ole.

In all of them, it seems that recent memories are more painful than ancient geopolitical rivalries - but not by very much.

In Clarin's internet poll, 52% of respondents said they would prefer England to be knocked out of the World Cup.

Of those surveyed by La Nacion's website, 54% said they would rather see Brazil winning the game.

Ole found a slightly larger edge for the Brazilians: 57% against 43%.

The climate is well illustrated by Ole, which describes Friday's game as "the most hated of all matches".

The newspaper speculates that many Argentines will be looking forward to a Brazilian win because their neighbour's football style has more affinities with their own kind of game.

Ole also says that coach Luiz Felipe Scolari's team has showed some weaknesses and many people in Argentina believe they can be beaten in the semi-finals by either Turkey or Senegal.

"But many will support England because, if Brazil win, they can go on and win their fifth World Cup title, and that would be very hard to swallow," said the paper.


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