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By ESPN Staff

Matthaus tips Robinson as major player for England

Paul Robinson's emergence as a top-class goalkeeper has transformed England into potential World Cup winners, according to former Germany captain Lothar Matthaus.

The ex-World Cup winner believes the Tottenham `keeper is the missing link in Sven-Goran Eriksson's side.

Matthaus, who has also tipped Wayne Rooney to be a contender to win the Gillette best young player award, believes David Seaman's clanger against Brazil in 2002 proved the importance of a top-class stopper.

He told PA Sport: 'I believe a big factor is that after five or six years England has a good goalkeeper in Paul Robinson. He can make the difference between this World Cup and the last two big tournaments.

'You can have a good team but you will struggle to get to the final if you do not have a good `keeper.

'Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester United and Liverpool have all bought foreign `keepers because there is a problem with English goalkeepers but now you have Robinson, and he can make the difference.

'England are my favourites from Europe. They have great players - Wayne Rooney could be the outstanding young player of the World Cup, then there is Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard and David Beckham, and a good goalkeeper can win you the title.

'Sven-Goran Eriksson is a great coach with great experience and he will want to bring the World Cup back to England before he leaves.'

Matthaus has recently spent a short spell in charge of Brazilian side Atletico Paranaense after a spell as coach of Hungary, but he believes Brazil's defence is too weak to allow them to capture a sixth World Cup.

He said: 'I would say Argentina are the strongest team outside Europe. As a team they are very compact, and have very good players all round.

'Brazil's defence is a big problem - they do not have the quality there to win the title and they might even have a problem getting out of their group.

'They have to face Australia, who have a good coach in Guus Hiddink who has sorted their problems out; they have to play Japan who drew 2-2 with them in the Confederations Cup and whose coach is Zico and knows all about Brazilian football; then they have Croatia who have caused them problems in their last two friendlies.'

Matthaus lifted the World Cup as captain of Germany in 1990 but he does not believe his country has any chance, even as hosts, this year.

He added: 'We do not have the quality of players to match England, Argentina, Holland, Italy, Portugal or even Croatia.

'We have an easy group but I think we will be beaten in the first knock-out round by England or Sweden.'