Friday, 25 June 2010

That Rooney Shot Should Have Gone In !

By not scoring another goal against Slovenia, England now face Germany in the second round, and if England progresses will likely face Argentina in the quarter-finals. The task for the United States, which won Group C, will be far easier against Ghana and then either Uruguay or South Korea, but with all respect to those teams, only Uruguay have an outside chance of reaching the World Cup final.

Of course, in 1982 Italy finished second in its group and had to play Brazil and Argentina to reach the semi-finals, and then went on to lift the World Cup. But England 2010 might not be as powerful or as brave as Italy 1982!

Nevertheless, Germany is not as good a team as it once was. (But the country does have a knack of getting to World Cup Finals, even with poor teams.) We think that this year will be different and that England should and will beat Germany, and then beat either an Argentina team that has peaked too soon, or Mexico.

Both Brazil and Spain could end up today in the top half of the draw, which could lead to a semi-final meeting for England with Portugal. Of course, when England won the World Cup in 1966, it beat Argentina, Portugal, and West Germany in the knock-out stages, just as it is likely to have to do this year. Interestingly, Italy failed to get out of the initial group stage in 1966, just as it failed to do so yesterday !!

At World Cup Companion, we predict that Brazil will get the better of Spain, (if Spain only finishes second in its group,) and while one would normally go for Brazil to beat the Netherlands, we think that the latter will beat Brazil this time. The two semi-finals will be Uruguay versus the Netherlands, and England versus Portugal. The final will see Fabio's dream realised with the Netherlands meeting England in the final on 11 July.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Don´t Worry, England Will Make It. Here´s Why.

Everyone I meet seems to have given up on England, and one can understand the sentiment after the poor Friday evening performance. But everything is still to play for. Let me explain.

In the 1986 World Cup Finals, England had only one point after two matches. England turned it around with a win, a convincing win, against Poland. England went through to the second round and beyond. In Italia 90, England drew the first two matches and then won the third to top its group and went on to reach the semi-finals. Other teams have done similar things. Argentina went all the way to the Final in 1990 after winning only two matches in open play.

Italy went one better in 1982. It had won the World Cup in 1938 and then 44 years later drew all three of its group matches in the 1982 tournament and finished only second in its group. Rossi, who had a poor start to the tournament that year, became Italy´s hero against Brazil before Italy went on to beat West Germany in the World Cup Final. Interestingly, It is also 44 years since England last won the World Cup. Perhaps England will come to life now, (just as Italy did in 1982,) led by its hero, the so-far ineffective Rooney.

Put simply, if England win on Wednesday, and they should do, England will qualify for the last 16. A high scoring draw might be enough, but England must go for the win. If the USA win against Algeria, it too will qualify. Then the question is, is it better to finish top of the group or second?

In 1954, many believed that the Germans deliberately forfeited top place in its group so that it would go through to an easier side of the draw. West Germany reached the summit of world football that year by going on to win the World Cup. At the start of the South African tournament, everyone agreed that England´s best route to the Final would be in winning its group. But now, finishing second might not be a bad thing. Germany, Italy and Spain might not win their groups and if England came second it could avoid all three, as well as Brazil, before the Final. Of course, Argentina looks like winning its group and England could meet those old rivals in the quarter-finals.

Very often, teams that have started poorly have gone on to win the World Cup. It is very difficult to win 7 World Cup matches on the trot. But England need now only win 5 matches to go on to glory. The first is on Wednesday afternoon.

Steve Woods
(World Cup Companion)

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

How Far Will Your Team Go?

Do you think your team can make it past the first round of the World Cup? Even if it is a weaker team, there is always a chance of this. Just ask Ecuador, Ghana, or Australia, three so called weaker teams finishing second in their respective groups in 2006. Senegal, Paraguay, and Turkey did it in 2002 and Japan won its group.

And then of course there have been some big surprises over the years in the latter rounds. Some examples are South Korea 2 Italy 1; Croatia 3 Germany 0; Bulgaria 2 Germany 1; West Germany 3 Hungary 2; and Uruguay 2 Brazil 1.

However, as explained in our book "World Cup Companion", the final will probably include one of the big four countries of the soccer world: Brazil, Argentina, Italy, Germany. At least one of these four countries has appeared in every World Cup Final from 1930 to 2006.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

3 Days to Go

While the Jury is still out on the merits or otherwise of the new ball for South Africa, England´s last warm up match against the local team was disappointing. The score was not particularly important, but some of the performances were. The England players must not get into arguments when the real matches come along, and silly defensive errors must be avoided if the World Cup is to come home to England.

Monday, 7 June 2010

Last Warm Up

Today we´ll have a better idea of the starting line-up for Saturday. England goes into its final warm-up match today with the England manager likely to use players intended to start against the United States.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

England 23

Eight clubs will supply the 23 players going to the World Cup for England. From Aston Villa: Stephen Warnock, James Milner, and Emile Heskey. From Chelsea: Ashley Cole, John Terry, Joe Cole, and Frank Lampard. From Liverpool: Jamie Carragher, Glen Johnson, and Steven Gerrard. From Manchester City: Joe Hart, Gareth Barry, and Shaun Wright-Phillips. From Manchester United: Rio Ferdinand, Michael Carrick, and Wayne Rooney. From Portsmouth: David James. From Tottenham Hotspur: Ledley King, Aaron Lennon, Peter Crouch, and Jermain Defoe. From West Ham United: Robert Green, and Matthew Upson.
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