As convenient as it seems to swing wildly between
delusions extreme optimism and suicidal madness extreme pessimism when talking about England’s chances at the World Cup, the truth is that they’re not coming home after the group stages (and after today’s results, Nigeria just might so think of the reception they’ll get, and thank the stars England have a point on the board).
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Given the sluggish start most teams have had, England’s performances were about average (or above average according to our podcast pundits). They’ve navigated past a tough team without losing (ask Spain how they feel), and as long as the remaining England squad stay fit, they should easily top their group and avoid Germany. Another quarter-final appearance awaits.
Ledley King is out so expect Carragher to step in, while Barry is penciled in to start (and presumably get some match-fitness in a relatively easy game before the knockout rounds). The identity of Rooney’s partner remains a mystery, although if Barry plays we’re likely to see Rooney up top in a 4-2-3-1 with Gerrard on the left and whoever Capello fancies on the right (Lennon or Cole for me, with the other coming in as a super-sub).
Then again, small team, easy pickings, so this must be a game Crouch starts (and improves his scoring record), right?
Unless Algeria have been deliberately poor in recent matches, this will be a walkover. They were no match for Slovenia in the opening game and were easy pickings for Ireland in a pre-tournament friendly.
The manager Rabah Sadane has talked his team up by saying they don’t need any motivation to step up their game when they’re facing a big team like England, but in truth they desperately need to raise their game and motivation alone won’t cut it. Algeria were dreadful in defending crosses, poor going forward and are missing their keeper and striker (injury and red card respectively).
And if you know Capello, you’ll know his teams tend to pick up steam as the matches start coming thick and fast, so I wouldn’t be surprised if Algeria come up against a much tougher England this time around.
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Watch England v Algeria Live Online
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