ZLBT Chats

Saturday, June 12, 2010

ENGLAND vs USA >>> Match Previews

Underdogs happy to play the underachiever
When England entered their first World Cup in 1950, they went down to a famous 1-0 defeat at the hands of the amateurs of USA in a match that became known as the 'Miracle on Grass'. The game has come a long way in America since that match and, while most firmly expect an England victory in Rustenburg on Saturday, an upset would hardly be viewed as miraculous.

England have mixed feelings going into the 2010 tournament. While Fabio Capello has turned the team around following the failure to qualify for Euro 2008, winning all but one of his competitive matches, the disjointed performances in the warm-up games for South Africa have done little to inspire confidence.
USA, though, have also struggled to convince during their warm-up matches, and it is largely the memories of last year's 2-0 victory over Spain in the Confederations Cup that will provide hope of a win in what represents a huge match for both countries.

"For the last six months, all we've seen is US-England, so if you're a casual sports fan at home you might think this is the World Cup final," USA star Landon Donovan said in his press conference ahead of the game. "We're not like Brazil where if they don't win the World Cup soccer is still the biggest thing in anyone's mind, but this is a great opportunity to grow the sport."

USA could adopt a 4-5-1 formation for the match with Jozy Altidore as a lone striker, with Japan enjoying success against England using the same formation as they dominated the midfield battle. With Donovan and Clint Dempsey out wide, the tactic would not be overly defensive.

England have largely used 4-4-2, and a change seems unlikely at this stage, but it was only when Joe Cole was brought on as a substitute against Japan that England were able to compete in the middle, so Capello's hand may be forced.
USA coach Bob Bradley has said all 23 players in his squad are ready to play the full 90 minutes, although Oguchi Onyewu's lack of match practice in recent months remains a concern. For England, Gareth Barry's absence could prove problematic given the lack of an alternative holding midfielder in the squad.

England player in focus: Aaron Lennon. England's right winger has often been central to hopes of unlocking opposition defences and, while Joe Cole should offer creativity from the left, Lennon could become the focus if his team struggle. He'll come up against an experienced opponent in USA captain Carlos Bocanegra the former Fulham man who now plays in Ligue 1 with Rennes, so Fabio Capello will hope the Tottenham man can rediscover his pre-injury form on the big stage.

USA player in focus: Landon Donovan. This pacy attacker is very much the star of the USA team and he can provide a real threat out wide, frequently swapping flanks with Fulham's Clint Dempsey. The English defenders will be fully aware of his capabilities following his loan stint with Everton earlier this year, and Ashley Cole may be a little wary of facing the man whose tackle nearly ruled him out of the tournament. If Donovan gets a chance to play on the left flank, Glen Johnson will need to curtail his natural instinct to support the attack.

Key battle: Wayne Rooney v Oguchi Onyewu. Rooney finally ended an international goal drought with his strike in the warm-up match against Platinum Stars, but he may have the chance to really kick-start his England career on Saturday. USA centre back Onyewu, the former Newcastle loanee, joined AC Milan from Standard Liege last summer but made just one appearance in Serie A after suffering a knee injury on international duty. USA coach Bob Bradley believes Onyewu is fit to play the full 90 minutes but, as he has not appeared in any of the warm-up games, it is essential that he gets back up to speed from the off.
Trivia: England boss Fabio Capello gave USA coach Bob Bradley some help and insights into the world of management during his time at AC Milan in the 1990s.
Stats: Wayne Rooney was involved in more goals than any other player in Europe during the qualification campaign, with nine goals and five assists. USA have not kept a clean sheet in a World Cup finals match since beating England 1-0 in 1950.


The United States will be more than happy to come into this match as underdogs, as all the pressure will be on England to lift up to expectations that have reached ridiculous heights. Team USA may be better at basketball than "soccer", but they have a team of very decent individuals that are capable of making a difference. They finished their warm-up games with good wins against Turkey and Australia so they have every right to be quietly confident.
I have a few interesting observations to share. In the 12 World Cups they have participated in from 1950 to 2006, England have won only 5 opening games - in 1950, 1970, 1982, 1998 and 2006. They have never won the opening games in back-to-back World Cups, and with them having won in 2006, it is indeed risky to be backing the Three Lions with the handicap at -1, because a win is not enough! They need to win, and they need to win by 2 or more.

Almost like an England B team playing the A team




Take USA with + 1 goal handicap straight bet

Take UNDER 2 1/4 Total Goals Scored at odds 1.975


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