Get Newsletter

England v Argentina - Teams and Prediction

PREVIEW: England and Argentina will enter the World Cup fray in Marseilles on Saturday in what is widely regarded as the defining clash of Pool D.

ADVERTISEMENT

The troublesome woes of the England side has been widely documented in recent months while Argentina has had a good run of late.

During the Rugby Championship the Los Pumas, following their opening 12-41 defeat to New Zealand, recorded a sterling  34-31 victory over Australia in Sydney.

They then came close to upsetting South Africa at Ellis Park in a performance that will have raised significant alarm for England coach Steve Borthwick.

Argentina tend to save their best for World Cups in France, and they are the highest-ranked team in their half of the draw.

Let’s be honest here – Argentina and World Cups in France are a match made in heaven dating back 24 years to Diego Albanese’s try that changed the course of Argentinian rugby history.

They have appeared in every World Cup since the inaugural edition in New Zealand and Australia in 1987, clocking their best result in 2007 when they came third after beating the hosts in their opening match and again in the third-place play-off.

ADVERTISEMENT

It is therefore safe to say that the Los Pumas will go into their opening match against a misfiring England in Marseille as favourites.

It is clear that something is ailing the English. What exactly that is, is not obvious.

With Billy Vunipola and Owen Farrell absent due to suspensions, and following the humiliating loss Fiji, expectations are low to say the least.

England have won just two of their nine fixtures in 2023 and will look to ignite their bid in this crucial opening match of their World Cup campaign.

ADVERTISEMENT

It must be said that rarely, if ever, has an England team arrived at the global showpiece with such little form and momentum.

But Borthwick is staying positive in the wake of adversity, saying it was all about peaking at the right time for their tournament opener.

“We have been building towards September 9 and being ready, and that has not changed,” said Borthwick.

But the tag of underdog does not sit well with the former England lock who played in the 2007 World Cup when England overcame a poor start and patchy form to reach the final.

“I sense from the players that there’s a feeling that they’ve written them off too early, people called time on them a bit too early,” said Borthwick.

“There’s a lot of class in this squad and I think these players have got a hell of a lot more to go.”

The team suffered the ignominy of a first-ever loss to Fiji, in a humbling 22-30 defeat at Twickenham in their final pre-tournament Test match last month, which was a fifth defeat in their last six games.

One positive from that game, however, was the performance of scrumhalf Alex Mitchell, who goes from a late injury call-up to straight into a starting spot at the Stade Velodrome.

Despite a record home defeat by France in the Six Nations earlier this year, alongside losses to Scotland, Wales and Ireland (twice) in 2023, skipper Courtney Lawes echoed Borthwick, insisting that the team boasted enough experience to get past its rocky patch.

“It’s the first game of the World Cup and we’re going to be well up for it,” the flank said.

“It’s going to be a hell of a spectacle. We’re going all guns blazing and give it all we’ve got.”

The task ahead, however, was not lost on Borthwick.

“Argentina are an exceptionally strong side,” he acknowledged.

“In the last year, they’ve beaten England at Twickenham, they’ve beaten New Zealand and Australia, so we know they’re a formidable challenge and arguably the best Argentinian side to come to the World Cup, so we know we have to be very good this weekend.”

Borthwick added: “But I have every confidence in the players.

“I sense a real determination from the players to perform to the best of their abilities on Saturday.”

Los Pumas coach Michael Cheika opted for Juan Cruz Mallia at fullback as he picked six forwards on the bench.

Mallia is part of a back three with goal-kicker Emiliano Boffelli and Mateo Carreras on the wings and a powerful midfield of Santiago Chocobares and Lucio Cinti.

“It was difficult to choose the starting team, because they are all available,” Cheika said on Thursday. “Given the game we imagine it will be, we will have six forwards and two backs in the reserves.”

“We prepared as we always do. We are happy because preparation is more important than the game because it is what we can control,” said Cheika who led Australia to the 2015 World Cup Final and to the quarters four years ago when they were knocked out by England.

Los Pumas captain Julian Montoya acknowledged there had been some anxious times in the build-up to this World Cup opener.

“We have been preparing for the game for a long time. Anxiety is there and it would be strange if it wasn’t. We have to be together, focused on the present,” Montoya said.

Players to watch:

For Argentina: Juan Martin Gonzalez is tireless at the breakdown and powerful in the carry. He is hardly a newcomer to the international stage, but having 24 Test caps at the age of 22 proves his pedigree. Gonzalez is a threat in the loose. He has scored seven tries for Argentina, including a powerful burst in the Pumas’ first-ever win over New Zealand last year. Captain  Julian Montoya is a true world class player and will charge around the field, putting his body on the line in defence, stealing ball at the breakdown and carrying hard into the English defence. Pablo Matera is one of the premier loose forwards in World Rugby. He’s a skilful and tenacious player with genuine leadership qualities and his role will be immense.

For England: Ellis Genge’s acceleration and speed for a front rower is absurd as the English will look to exploit the set-pieces and create space to bash through. At flyhalf, George Ford has the ability to bring the ball close to the line and engage the players outside. That will be crucial in the unenviable task of generating momentum for an English side bereft of confidence. Tom Curry has not played since the Premiership final in May, but he is a crucial cog in that pack. The 25-year-old is incredibly quick around the field, but it will be interesting to see if he takes time to get up to the pace of the game after being out for quite some time.

Key RWC info:

  • Argentina won its most recent Test match against England (30-29 in November 2022) after losing 10 in a row against them previously, Emiliano Boffelli scored 25 points in that historic victory at Twickenham last year.
  • England is the only Northern Hemisphere nation to have lifted the Webb Ellis Cup, doing so in 2003; they have progressed from the Pool Stage in eight of the previous nine World Cups, only failing to do so on home soil in 2015.
  • England lost its openinfixtureee of the 1987 (v Australia) and 1991 (New Zealand) World Cups, but have subsequently won all seven of their Round 1 matches in the competition.
  • Only once in nine attempts have Argentina won their opening match of a World Cup, doing so in 2007 when the Los Pumas beat France in what was their most successful campaign, finishing in third place after once again beating Les Blues in the bronze medal match.

 

England v Argentina - Teams and Prediction England v Argentina - Teams and Prediction England v Argentina - Teams and Prediction

Prediction:

@rugby365com: Argentina by 12 points

Teams:

England: 15 Freddie Steward, 14 Jonny May, 13 Joe Marchant, 12 Manu Tuilagi, 11 Elliot Daly, 10 George Ford, 9 Alex Mitchell, 8 Ben Earl, 7 Tom Curry, 6 Courtney Lawes (captain), 5 Ollie Chessum, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Jamie George, 1 Ellis Genge.
Replacements: 16 Theo Dan, 17 Joe Marler, 18 Will Stuart, 19 George Martin, 20 Lewis Ludlam, 21 Danny Care, 22 Marcus Smith, 23 Ollie Lawrence

Argentina: 15 Juan Cruz Mallia, 14 Emiliano Boffelli, 13 Lucio Cinti, 12 Santiago Chocobares, 1 Mateo Carreras, 10 Santiago Carreras, 9 Gonzalo Bertranou, 8 Juan Martin Gonzalez, 7 Marcos Kremer, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Tomas Lavanini, 4 Matias Alemanno, 3 Francisco Gomez Kodela, 2 Julian Montoya (captain), 1 Thomas Gallo
Replacements: 16 Agustín Creevy, 17 Joel Sclavi, 18 Eduardo Bello, 19 Guido Petti Pagadizabal, 20 Pedro Rubiolo, 21 Rodrigo Bruni, 22 Lautaro Bazan Velez, 23 Matías Moroni

Date: Saturday, September 9
Venue: Stade Velodrome, Marseille
Kick-off: 21.00 (19.00 GMT: 20.00 UK & Ireland time, 16.00 ART)
Referee: Mathieu Raynal (France)
Assistant Referees: Ben O’Keeffe (New Zealand), Pierre Brousset (France)
TMO: Marius Jonker (South Africa)

Additional reporting: AFP & @WorldRugby

Join free

New Zealand v Canada | Pacific Four Series 2024 | Full Match Replay

HSBC Sevens Challenger Series - Munich Day Two Replay

HSBC Sevens Challenger Series - Krakow Day Two Replay

Japan Rugby League One Semi-Final | Wildknights v Eagles | Full Match Replay

Japan Rugby League One Semi-Final | Bravelupus v Sungoliath | Full Match Replay

Pieter-Steph du Toit, The Malmesbury Missile, in conversation with Big Jim

The Antoine Dupont Interview

Chasing The Sun | Series 1 Episode 1

Write A Comment