Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Three Lions haven’t won a World Cup since 1966, but many think that can change this year. They received a somewhat favorable draw, getting the inexperienced Algerians, the smallest country in the World Cup Slovenia, and their rivals from across the pond, the Americans. They are favored by many to come in 1st in their group, and barring a major injury or a miracle, they should safely advance into the knockout stage. England has been hit hard by the injury bug, having lost captain Rio Ferdinand, midfielder Gareth Barry, and having many other injuries that have caused players to miss training. Coach Fabio Capello’s team has multiple stars from England’s Premier League. Some big names include Man U’s Wayne Rooney and Chelsea’s trio of John Terry, Ashley Cole, and Frank Lampard.

Key Players: F Wayne Rooney, M Frank Lampard, D Ashley Cole, D John Terry, M Steven Gerrard

Why England will win

  1. Experience- England’s squad has by far more experience than the United States’. The United States only has a couple of their stars playing for club teams in Europe, while every player on England’s roster plays in the Premier League, which is arguably the toughest league in the world.

  2. Talent- The England roster has big names all over the place. Their starters are world-class players. Wayne Rooney is considered to be the best striker in the world and they have many other players such as Lampard who is one of the top 5 midfielders in the world, Terry and Cole are also some of the top defenders in the Premier League as well. Some of England’s backups even have more experience and talent than some of the U.S. starters. They are straight up faster, stronger, smarter, and more skilled than the United States players.

  3. Wayne Rooney and the US Defense- As said before, he is almost unstoppable. He would have led the premier league in goals if it was not for Chelsea and Ivory Coast striker Didier Drogba. He is a physical specimen who has a touch of gold. There are not talents like him that come around very often. The United States’ biggest weakness is their defensive line. In their recent friendlies their defense has not been at top form and their best defender, Oguchi Onyewu, made his return from a knee injury just last week. Their defense is in serious trouble when they face one of the world’s best in Wayne Rooney.

    Why England will lose

  1. Injuries- As I mentioned earlier England has a history of injuries. They will be missing 2 starters for this game including their best defensemen and captain Rio Ferdinand. They also have many players that are not at top form because of injuries forcing them to miss time with the squad.

  2. History of the World Cup- Traditionally, England always does poorly in its opener of the World Cup. In the World Cup emotions fly high, it is known for upsets and surprises. Many Americans are thinking of 1950 when the U.S shocked England 1-0 in a group match known as “The Miracle on Grass”. England was “The King of Football” and the United States had lost their past 7 international matches. The odds for England to win the Cup was 3-1; the US, 500-1. Obviously it is not the same situation, but crazier things have happened so an upset on Saturday shouldn’t be so shocking.

Wayne Rooney- It is not a secret that the English striker has a bad temper. This past week a referee criticized him for going on a tirade against him and his foul language saying that he would have ejected him if it was not a friendly match. He warned Rooney that he could be sent off if he behaved like that during a World Cup match. There is video a , just so you can see what I mean. A big issue with that is that as deep as England is, it is not so deep at the striker position. There is no clear replacement for Rooney. Jermaine Defoe has played terrible at his club team Tottenham and is not even close to top form, Emile Heskey is known to have a bad international record as he has trouble finding the back of the net. Fabio Capello depends greatly on Rooney so he must control his temper in order for England to win.

The United States has long been considered a poor stepbrother to England when it comes to soccer, but the boys across the pond now face a team with higher expectations than usual. With the United States’ surprising run during last year’s Confederations Cup, including a win over European champions Spain, the Yanks have a newfound confidence in their abilities. This team will rely on smarts over skills, as they will focus on limiting their mistakes as a team and controlling the tempo of the game.

Key Players: M Landon Donovan, F/M Clint Dempsey, F Jozy Altidore, G Tim Howard, D Oguchi Onyewu

Why the US will win:

The US will win this game because they relish their role as the underdog. They love to come out and surprise their opponents by keeping the ball away from them and capitalizing on their opportunities, it will be no different against England. Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore will provide a solid scoring threat against an injury-laden England backline. The usual pairing of former captain Rio Ferdinand and John Terry has been broken up due to the fact that Ferdinand will miss the cup because of injury. Replacing Ferdinand will be Ledley King, a player known for his chronic knee problems. England also still hasn’t decided on a goalkeeper, choosing between 39 year old David James, or inexperienced Nick Green. This uncertainty for England should allow the US to be able to score without a problem.

Why the US will lose:

England is bigger, faster, stronger, and quite frankly, more talented. With the exception of the uncertainty between John Terry and his defensive mate, England is loaded in every position. The US defense has proved to be extremely vulnerable over its few matches leading up to the World Cup. The US cannot afford to make a defensive mistake against England, because they will make them pay. England’s scoring threats include Wayne Rooney, Peter Crouch, and Jermaine Defoe. Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard are two of the finest free-kick takers in the world, so the US must be careful not to give them any easy chances.

Matchup to Watch: Michael Bradley and Wayne Rooney

Bradley has been known to get into opponents heads and is one of the toughest players in the tournament. Wayne Rooney on the other hand, is a tantrum waiting to happen. If Bradley is successful in taking Rooney’s mind off of playing the game, it will be a major plus for the Yanks.