Speaking ahead of the friendly fixture with Argentina on Saturday, Michael Owen has claimed that the current England squad is stronger than that of Real Madrid.

Owen, who spent a year at the Bernabeu with Real, believes that England are serious challengers for the World Cup in Germany next summer. And he insists that the England squad would be more than a match for the Spanish outfit.

“There are some fantastic players in the Real Madrid squad and you can’t deny that the four or five so-called ‘Galacticos’ are real world-beaters,” said Owen.

“But the rest of the Madrid squad isn’t a patch on what we have within the England squad at the moment and there is certainly more depth in this group of players.

“The manager, Sven-Goran Eriksson, has a 23-man squad for this game against Argentina and every one of those players is top quality.

“Madrid may have ten or eleven world-class players, but I think that when you go beyond that lot, the standard of player underneath that group doesn’t match what we have in this England squad.”

Owen, set to play in his third World Cup, believes that the current England team is is stronger than those of 1998 and 2002, when England were eliminated at the second round and quarter-final stage respectively.

“If everyone within this squad plays to their maximum, then this is certainly the best group I will have gone to a World Cup with,” the Newcastle United striker added. “We have such good players and the standard in training is unbelievable at times.

“I wouldn’t be scared of facing any team in the world with this group of players.

“We have shown we can play well as a team, although not as often as we would have liked recently, and we know we now just have to peak for seven games next June and July. If we can do that, then we have a great chance in Germany.

“As a team, we have to be mentally strong to win a competition, but we can’t allow ourselves to believe we have a deficiency just because we haven’t won anything since 1966.

“There can only be one winner of any tournament and if we feel bad about not winning, how do the Italians or the Spanish feel? They are in the same bracket as England, but I certainly don’t fear any of the top teams that we may face and we know we have a real chance next summer.”

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