Monday, June 07, 2010


The third part of FIFA World Cup 2010 preview will look at the teams in Group C. Group C consists of England, United States, Here are yet again my amateur opinions.

Nickname: The Three Lions
Coach: Fabio Capello
FIFA Ranking*: 8
Last 5 matches: v Slovenia (2-1), v Brazil (0-1), v Egypt (3-1), v Mexico (3-1), v Japan (2-1)
Past appearances: 13 - 1966 (Champion); 1990 (Fourth Place); 1954, 1962, 1970, 1986, 2002, 2006 (Q-Finalist); 1982 (Round 2); 1998 (Round of 16); 1950, 1958 (Round 1); 2010

The Squad:
GK 1 David James, 12 Robert Green, 23 Joe Hart
DF 3 ashley Cole, 6 John Terry, 18 Jamie Carragher, 2 Glen Johnson, 20 Ledley King, 15 Matthew Upson, 13 Stephen Warnock, 5 Michael Dawson
MF 4 Steven Gerrard (C), 8 Frank Lampard, 11 Joe Cole, 14 Gareth Barry, 17 Shaun Wright-Phillips, 22 Michael Carrick, 7 Aaron Lennon, 16 James Milner
FW 10 Wayne Rooney, 21 Emile Heskey, 19 Jermaine Defoe, 9 Peter Crouch

The Three Lions - a team where all of these started and history has pointed out that indeed the Englishmen who were the first to play football. England has been consistently been in the quarter-final round, occurred 6 out of the 12 World Cup campaigns. Duly noted, they won the trophy back in 1966 and remained down the history as the only time they made that far. England is not a winning team, not even close to the year when Alf Ramsey was the manager. However, they remained one of the most respected and fearsome team in the world. Like I said, England will definitely not win this year's World Cup, but Fabio Capello's side has been radical under his management and have seen a much improvement since they were dumped out of Euro 2008 when Steve McClaren was unable to propel them to the Final rounds, at the expense of Croatia and Russia. Time have changed ever since and the lions are back to roar. They have finest players on crops like John Terry on the back, Steve G and Frank Lampard are the key middle-men while the recent bullish performances by Rooney and Defoe could made them a lethal goal machine. But here's the problem, Capello is currently worried about his players' fitness and many of them had injured in the recent months. Rio Ferdinand was ruled out due to injury while Rooney has seen some drop in pace after suffering injury. Gerrard (calf), Barry (ankle), Warnock and Terry are all on the injury list too. This could be a major setback for Capello because he has only little time to ensure the whole England team functions well. Looks like old lady luck is not on his side.

(L) Steven Gerrard (Liverpool, 80 caps, 16 goals); (C) Frank Lampard (Chelsea, 78 caps, 20 goals); (R) Wayne Rooney (Manchester United, 60 caps, 25 goals)

After the jump, more on USA, Algeria and Slovenia.....

Nickname: -
Coach: Bob Bradley
FIFA Ranking*: 14
Last 5 matches: v El Salvador (2-1), v Netherlands (1-2), v Czech Rep (2-4), v Turkey (2-1), v Australia (3-1)
Past appearances: 9 - 1930 (Third Place); 2002 (Q-Finalist); 1982 (Round 2); 1994 (Round of 16); 1934, 1950, 1990, 1998, 2006 (Round 1); 2010

The Squad:
GK 1 Tim Howard, 18 Brad Guzan, 23 Marcus Hehnemann
DF 2 Jonathan Spector, 3 Carlos Bocanegra (C), 5 Oguchi Onyewu, 6 Steve Cherundolo, 12 Jonathan Bornstein, 15 Jay DeMerit, 21 Clarence Goodson
MF 4 Michael Bradley, 7 DaMarcus Beasley, 8 Clint Dempsey, 10 Landon Donovan, 11 Stuart Holden, 13 Ricardo Clark, 16 Jose Francisco Torres, 19 Maurice Edu, 22 Benny Feilhaber
FW 9 Herculez Gomez, 14 Edson Buddle, 17 Jozy Altidore, 20 Robbie Findley

The United States team has a lot of potential going-on. Their recent friendlies pre-World Cup spoken a lot of things and one of these are the ability to kill. They beat Australia and Turkey with styles while gave both European giants - Turkey and Australia some runs before bowed to defeat. The opening game against England on this coming weekend is something very interesting. For the records, England has beaten USA 7 times out of their 9 meetings. While The Three Lions has plagued with serious injury problem, it could be USA who shines. USA has never had a great World Cup records to proud off - a third place in 1930 and quarter-finalist in 2002. This time however, they have some advantages, playing England, Algeria and Slovenia in Group C could possibly elevate the team to the next round. USA is a competitive team and no one can ever doubt their performances when it comes to balance team plays. Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey are the main anchors for the team, providing more strike force to the forward Herculez Gomez and Edson Buddle. Likewise, the first match against England is a crucial match!

(L) Clint Dempsey (Fulham, 62 caps, 18 goals); (C) Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy, 123 caps, 42 goals); (R) Jozy Altidore (Villarreal, 25 caps, 9 goals)

Nickname: Les Fennecs (The Desert Foxes)
Coach: Rabah Saadane
FIFA Ranking*: 30
Last 5 matches: v Egypt (0-4), v Nigeria (0-1), v Serbia (0-3), v Ireland (0-3), v UAE (1-0)
Past appearances: 3 -1982, 1986 (Round 1); 2010

The Squad:
GK 1 Lounes Gaouaoui, 16 Faouzi Chaouchi, 23 Rais M'Bohli
DF 2 Madjid Bougherra, 3 Nadir Belhadj, 4 Antar Yahia, 5 Rafik Halliche, 12 Habib Bellaid, 14 Abdelkader Laifaoiui, 18 Carl Medjani, 20 Djamel Mesbah
MF 6 Yazid Mansouri (C), 7 Ryad Boudebouz, 8 Mehdi Lacen, 15 Karim Ziani, 17 Adlene Guedioura, 19 Hassan Yebda, 21 Foued Kadir, 22 Sjamel Abdoun
FW 9 Abdelkader Ghezzal, 10 Rafik Saifi, 11 Rafik Djebbour, 13 Karim Matmour

Algeria upsets Egypt to go into the final, marked with controversies that marred the diplomatic relationship between the two North African nations. Nevertheless, Algeria's entrance into the World Cup seems like a fairy tale. They were once a respectable team in the 80's but then slumped into a worst situation back in 2008. However, they produced miracle and here are the Algerian. They possess the team and the fighting spirit but can they fight the mighty giants in the group. Unlikely - it's hard although possible. They entered World Cup in 1982 and 1986, beating West Germany 2-1 and Chile 3-2 in 1982 but eventually find themselves that's the luck was on their favour - ousted in Round 1 after a three-way tie for 4 points with West Germany and Austria. Fast-forward to the modern-day, their revival occurred during the qualifying round - at the expenses of African champion Egypt. On this year's African Cup of Nations, the Algerian made another upset by garnered the fourth place. Purely, the Algerian managed to scrap through in almost everything! With 30th on FIFA ranking, the Algerian has a mountain to climb as England, US and Serbia are placed int he same group with them. Recent friendlies do not made the Algerian any else particular in contention to advance to the next round. Or else, can they mount another upset these time?

(L) Rafik Saifi (Siena, 19 caps, 3 goals); (C) Yazid Mansouri (Lorient, 67 caps, 0 goal); (R) Karim Ziani (Wolfsburg, 55 caps, 5 goals)

Nickname: -
Coach: Matjaz Kek
FIFA Ranking*: 25
Last 5 matches: v San Marino (3-0), v Russia (1-2), v Russia (1-0), v Qatar (4-1), v New Zealand (3-1)
Past appearances: 2 - 2002 (Round 1); 2010

The Squad:
GK 1 Samir Handanovic, 12 Jasmin handanovic, 16 Aleksander Seliga
DF 2 Miso Brecko, 3 Elvedin Dzinic, 4 marko Suler, 5 Bostjan Cesar, 6 Branko Ilic, 13 Bojan Jokic, 19 Suad Filekovic, 22 Matej Mavric
MF 8 Robert Koren (C), 10 Valter Birsa, 15 Rene Krhin, 17 Andraz Kirm, 18 Aleksander Radosavljevic, 20 Andrej Komac, 21 Dalibor Stevanovic
FW 7 Nejc Pecnik, 9 Zlatan Ljubijankic, 11 Milivoje Novakovic, 14 Zlatko Dedic, 23 Tim Matavz

Slovenia is a nation with full of surprises. They stunned the world when they qualified for Euro 2000 and went on to draw with Yugoslavia and Norway, while losing to Spain int he group stage. Again, history repeated - in 2002 World Cup and enjoyed an undefeated qualifying en-route to the final round in Japan/Korea. However, they did not pass through Round 1 back then (lost all matches to Spain, Paraguay and South Africa). Eight years later, Slovenia qualify again and my early consensus could be that Slovenia is seen as yet again, a group-filler. I doubt that they can do something magnificent by finishing the group on top two. The Slovenian is outspread and been amazing all over the European domestic leagues; particularly striker partnership of Koln's Milivoje Novakovic and Gent's Zlatan Ljubijankic should be treated with care. West Bromwich Albion's Robert Koren is the most senior and capped player and should provide some strength on the midfield while Samir Handanovic who played for Udinese will provide some solidity on the goal post. Will Slovenian advance further?

(L) Zlatan Ljubijankic (Gent, 17 caps, 4 goals); (C) Robert Koren (West Bromwich Albion, 46 caps, 4 goals); (R) Milivoje Novakovic (Koln, 38 caps, 16 goals)

So, for my amateur prediction on which teams should advance to Round of 16 (knockout stage); I would say England and USA will advance to the next round, albeit it's all depends on the opening matches in Group C, where USA will take on England and Slovenia versus Algeria. After all, both England and United States have the upper advantage in terms of ranking, recent match records and experiences. Slovenia may give USA something to fight for while I won't be surprise if Slovenia and not USA or England that may go to the next level. As for Algeria, this could be a huge mountain for them. In more realistic overview, to the Round of 16....ENGLAND and UNITED STATES

Tomorrow we will have more analysis on Group D that comprises Germany, Australia, Serbia and Ghana.