- Posted by Drew Epperley
- On June 10, 2010
- 0 Comments
- 2010 World Cup, Algeria, England, Geoff Reid, Group C, Slovenia
It comes down to one final group to preview. Of course I had to do the US’s group last, I couldn’t find it in myself to preview it right away when we started this last week anyways.
This preview will be slightly different as I asked WVH writer Geoff Reid to pipe in his thoughts on the group as well. For those you don’t know Geoff is originally from England and now lives in the States, so he definitely has a vested interest in this group. Geoff tackles Algeria and England in this preview while I handle the US and Slovenia.
We should have our full tournament predictions up later today. So stay tuned for that.
Algeria: The Desert Foxes return to the world’s stage for the first time in 24 years and the thinking behind them from the Algerian people is they are just happy to be in the tournament. The main problem the Algerians have is that a good chunk of their top players are struggling with fitness issues, players like Karim Ziani, Yazid Mansouri, Nadir Belhadj, Rafik Halliche, Madjid Bougherra, Antar Yahia, and Hassan Yebda combined have not played very much football at club level for them to be in top form ahead of the opening match versus Slovenia. This is also manager Rabah Saadane’s fifth time with the national side, and one of his previous stints include the 1982 tournament in Spain where he led the side to a wonderful victory over West Germany. Hoping for the best, this group believes if they can get off on a winning foot against Slovenia, that will set up the second match versus the United States and if they can build on the confidence of a win in the first match, they can win the second then setting up an interesting match against England with a runners up position in the group very much in place. It might be wishful thinking, but stranger things have happened. If it is going to be three and out for this bunch, they can still take heart by knocking out bitter rivals Egypt in qualification.
England: Just as the big boys stand in this tournament, England do not need an introduction. Everyone knows their players and manager, after watching them each week play for their club teams in the EPL. So there is no need to go through the strengths and weaknesses of the team tactically. What is important here is mentally. Every four years, or two depending on if they qualify for the European Championships, it’s always the same thing: England will win the world cup. That is the attitude and thinking of the typical English football supporter, and this year my friends is no different. The outcome is exactly the same every time. This year it will be different, blah, blah, blah. But think about this for a moment. Could this year be different for once? For starters, the Football Association hired one of the best managers in world football, Fabio Capello, who has brought discipline to the squad that was never seen under previous management. Don Fabio also seemed to solve the problem of finally showing the world that Frank Lampard, and newest captain Steven Gerrard can play together in the same midfield. But the big question is, will England be too reliant on Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney? He has faced the pressure since he made his debut for Everton at age 16 in 2002/2003 season. He was dubbed as Pele the second during the group stages of Euro 2004. He has matured since, but will the pressure get to him and see him blow up like in years past? A lot of question marks surround this team, and we did not even touch on some of the players personal lives like former captain John Terry and Ashley Cole and what effect it could have on the team. If England do have an area of absolute weakness, it’s been in goal and England haven’t had a legit number one keeper since David Seamen. Also, on the left hand side of the field, and this has been a problem for a number of years. Ashley Cole often cited as the world’s best left back. Going forward, he is a tremendous outlet out wide, defending however, not so much. Gets caught out of position way too easily and is not the most tactically astute player. For the last decade, England has not had a true left sided midfielder and have had players playing out of position just to take that spot. This tournament it could be either Gerrard, Lampard, or Gareth Barry should he be healthy. But they all are no Ryan Giggs from the last 20 years.
Slovenia: A lot of folks believe Slovenia is a country that is just happy to be here. They were very solid in qualifying beating out a Russian team that many expected to do well in this tournament. Only the Netherlands had a stingier defense in qualifying than Slovenia. Most folks expect them to beat Algeria in the opener to put immediate pressure on the possible loser of the England-US game. Their offense won’t scare too many folks though in this tournament. They have to get the upper hand early in all of their matches as they aren’t a team that can come from behind here. If another team scores first then they can pretty much bet that Slovenia will just pack it in.
United States: I don’t think we have to give too much of a long preview right now about this US squad. We know what we’re getting out of them and how important this World Cup is to them. The US will need to ride the confidence of their results in the 2009 Confederations Cup. As long as Landon Donovan and Tim Howard have good games so will this squad. They will also have to bank on their speed and fitness in this tournament as well. Injuries are definitely a concern but as long as the stars emerge the US should find a way to get out of this group.
Geoff: It was gut wrenching to see that both national teams I support with pride were drawn in the same group and play each other in the opening match for both sides. While I consider both countries to be my home, it would not be more fitting to see both the USA and England qualify from this group.
Drew: Goal differential may play a key factor in this group more than any others. I’m like a lot of folks that think the US can get a result against England. Its the perfect time to do so too. Slovenia in game two will be vital for the US to get three points and ending with Algeria, a team that is very hot and cold is a nice way to close things out. Its the draw I wanted for the US and I believe its a group that the US can win.
England 6 pts.
Algeria 4 pts.
Slovenia 0 pts.