Friendly will be like World Cup: Beckham

England captain David Beckham says the neutral venue for Saturday's friendly against Argentina will give the match a World Cup feel.

updated: February 25, 2007 10:53 IST
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England captain David Beckham says the neutral venue for Saturday's friendly against Argentina will give the match a World Cup feel. That means he could get sent off or score the winner. Rough treatment The Real Madrid player, who will captain England for a 50th time in Geneva, has good and bad memories of confrontations with the Argentines, who appear to single him out for rough treatment whenever he plays against them. "Why don't the Argentinean players like me? I don't know," Beckham said on Friday. "It is weird I have had some of the problems that have gone on. "In my first season at Real Madrid, every tackle or every booking I was getting, or any problems happening in a game, turned out to be with an Argentinean player which was bizarre. "Personally I've not got a problem with them." Tough time From the moment he was ejected for petulantly kicking Argentina midfielder Diego Simeone after he was fouled at the 1998 World Cup to his match-winning penalty in Sapporo, Japan, four years later, Beckham has run into trouble with the South Americans. One even broke a bone in his foot and almost forced him to miss the 2002 World Cup. Beckham told reporters on Friday the lowest point was Saint-Etienne at World Cup '98 when his needless red card left England to hold on for 70 minutes without him and the team went out of the competition after losing a penalty shootout. "I went through a tough time for maybe three years after that," Beckham said in reference to the abuse he took from fans back home in England for letting the team down. "Without a doubt it was the hardest time for me as a footballer and for what my family had to go through but I had a strong manager (Manchester United's Alex Ferguson) who was right behind me. The fans and the players were incredible in every game I played in. They stuck with me and kept it all together. "Then, four years later, I scored the penalty that beat the Argentineans and that was a special occasion for me." Beckham said he was not concerned that the tough-tackling Argentines might switch their attention to Wayne Rooney, who is known to have a volatile temper and has not played against them. "There are probably going to be many teams and many players who are going to try and wind Wayne Rooney up. He can handle it," Beckham said. "Everyone knows he's a great talent. It's been well documented about his discipline but I don't think there's going to be a problem." Old opponents At the Stade de Geneve on Saturday, Beckham will face several of the Spanish-based opponents he encounters on a regular basis when playing for Madrid. Valencia defender Roberto Ayala, Espanyol's Maximiliano Rodriguez and Villarreal's Juan Ramon Riquelme and Juan Pablo Sorin are all expected to start. But England also has a near full-strength side with Ledley King passed fit after a knee injury to play a deep midfield role and allow Beckham, Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard to attack Argentina. Beckham said that since England beat Poland to finish top of its qualifying group last month, the team has regained the confidence that was lost after a 1-0 defeat to modest Northern Ireland a few weeks earlier. "The mood is great, a lot more relaxed because we have qualified," he said. "It's the closest you get to playing a World Cup game tomorrow, because it's in Europe and in a neutral country, which is good. "People always hype this game up ... it's a great occasion because it's a friendly, but a special occasion as well." (AP)