The big one…
1773 the Boston Tea Party, 1775 the War of Independence starts, 1950 the USA defeat England 1-0, 1953 David Hasselhoff was born… America has a lot to answer for.
Will June 12th 2010 (the day after my birthday…) be the next date on this list of insults to dear old England?
Algeria made it to the semi-finals in the recent African Nations Cup and have a few strong players. Their coach Rabah Saadane is taking charge of the team for the fifth time and his fourth World Cup. Their play-off win against North African rivals Egypt showed they can handle pressure situations but I can’t see them having enough to make it out of this group.
England had a great qualifying campaign and finished top of an admittedly easy group. England have always had talented players but this time I think the important factor will be Fabio Capello. After the dismal Steve McClaren years, Capello took a group of under-achieving, wag-roasting prima donnas and has managed to get them to perform. The old problems on the pitch still remain however. Who will play on the left of midfield? Can Gerrard and Lampard play together? Why do we only have one decent striker? How can we win a game if can’t keep possession? Wayne Rooney has had a great season but if he gets injured, England will struggle to score goals with only Crouch, Defoe and Heskey as back-up. England’s real strength is in midfield and defence. There are big players at club level with a lot to prove on the international stage, in what will probably be the final World Cup appearance for Gerrard, Lampard, Terry, Ferdinand and Carragher. I actually think one of the main assets England have will be the full-backs, Glen Johnson and Ashley Cole, I expect to see a lot of attacking down the flanks from these two. How far England go in the tournament is anyone’s guess but they will qualify from this group.
Slovenia, like Algeria, are in danger of being overlooked as the hype builds around the other two teams. Slovenia have never won a game in the World Cup finals before and they have a slim chance of changing that in this group. They finished second in a qualifying group containing Poland and Czech Republic and won their last four games scoring 13 and conceding 0. However I don’t think they will seriously trouble the other teams in Group C.
The USA had a great tournament in the Confederations Cup last year making to the finals and leading Brazil 2-0 at half-time, finally losing 2-3. They knocked out European Champions Spain on the way to the finals. The majority of their players play for European teams and one of those who doesn’t, Landon Donavan, impressed in a 4 month loan at Everton this year. I expect whoever wins the USA v England game to qualify easily and there will a lot of pressure on the English team to beat a supposedly inferior USA side. An upset is definitely possible.
England and USA to qualify, Slovenia and Algeria to go home early…