PLATINI TIPS SPAIN, ENGLAND AND BRAZIL

LONDON - UEFA president Michel Platini named Brazil, England and Spain as favourites for the World Cup that kicks off in South Africa in June, but held out little hope for his own country, France.

LONDON - UEFA president Michel Platini named Brazil, England and Spain as favourites for the World Cup that kicks off in South Africa in June, but held out little hope for his own country, France.

"I have three favourites," the former France captain, a beaten semifinalist at the 1982 and 1986 tournaments, told The Times newspaper.

"Normally I have four favourites, but this time I have three: Brazil, Spain and England.

"Favourites, for me, means they have the quality and the capability to win, that they are the three best teams in the world.

"But if you play against France or Germany or Italy, you are not sure to win.

"Those three are the best teams to win and behind them you have 10 teams that will be very difficult to beat."

Platini justified his choice of England as one of the favourites for the June 11-July 11 World Cup because of coach Fabio Capello's nous and the form of key players such as John Terry, Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard and Wayne Rooney.

"Why England? Because they have good players. Good players and a good coach. It's a long time since you (England) won the World Cup and I think you have a good team (and) great players, from Terry to Lampard and Gerrard, Rooney."

He added: "Rooney is very good. He is a wonderful player. I didn't need to see him in the past months to see he was a good player. (Lionel) Messi was good at 20, now he's better at 22. Rooney is the same. Gerrard, too. I love Gerrard."

Platini refused to back down from his assessment of the English Premier League's decision not to have a winter break, making the national team "lions in the winter and lambs in the summer".

"Yes I did say that before," he told the newspaper. "I don't think it's the best preparation for a national team for the World Cup to be without a winter break."

Platini was less upbeat about the prospects of his own country at the World Cup. "There are good individuals in the group but let's be clear, there is no great individual," he said. - Sapa-AFP

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