England insight: Work to do for Capello
By Mark Allaway
Sunday 27 Dec 2009 10:43:00
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Liverpool FansOnline takes a break from the busy festive period as Mark Allaway looks ahaead to the 2010 World Cup and assesses England's chances.

So it’s that time of year again, children are getting excited, people are buying their outfits and getting in the alcohol - yes it’s the World Cup draw and England’s mindlessly optimistic fans are on the dreamy warpath once again. Hurrah.




Could this be our year? No. There are far superior teams in the competition than Fabio Capello’s men, and BBC Sports Personality’s coach of the year or not - it will take more than astute Italian man-management to guide the three lions to glory in South Africa.

England will have their highs and lows - a thumping of Algeria in the group stages would be pleasant but would no doubt add kerosene to the flames of hope.

And let’s not forget the other customary England World Cup traits - one key player will get injured towards the end of the season and face a ‘fitness battle’ to be on the plane, which they will fail but be taken along anyway due to the lack of quality deputies.

There will be some brawl in a bar, either involving drunk fans or players outside curfew, and there will be a debate over the role of the WAGs in the camp. One of the other big guns will crash out- leading to a big name pundit suggesting the way is open for England to storm home and someone will be sent off in the quarter-final - which of course will be as far as England can go.

The likely route for the side, dangerously assuming they pass through a simple first phase, is to play Ghana as runners-up of group D in the round of 32, or the old enemy Germany if they under-perform- something Michael Ballack has revealed lately will not be such a surprise to him.

Already a candidate for Britain’s least favourite nation of the summer would appear to be France. After their game-in-hand against Ireland, they may face England as winners of group A after facing Nigeria or Greece in the round of 32- a tie which England were not prepared for the last time the sides met in a competitive international.

Any chance that England may go one better than the standard requirement of their participation in the competition looks bleak with Argentina sighting them up in the semi-finals- the story is written for England to be struck down once again.

The Argies barely qualified, have Maradonna at the helm who is as bad a manager as he was brilliant a player and rely on the world’s best player Lionel Messi- but there are whispers that mastermind Guus Hiddink will be on board to assist as he has a free summer, and it is just England’s luck that the one time they meet the light blues they are there for the taking- yet they still cannot defeat them.

OK, so best case scenario they struggle through to the final- and who should be there but the two teams rated more likely to lift the trophy by the bookies than Cappelo’s men- Brazil or Spain.

Whatever happens here England will be the villains as they deny the showpiece final the whole world would want to see- Kaka versus Fabregas, Robinho versus Torres, Casillas versus Cesar- Spain versus Brazil.

In other words- getting to the final will be like signing the deposit on the silver medal- the team have come on since the defeat to the Spanish passing masters in a friendly back in February but there is still a vast chasm of quality between the two European sides, and Brazil- by hook or crook- always find a way past the bullish Whites.

So my message to all the day (and night) dream believers who are envisaging John Terry lifting the trophy on the steps of the Soccer City stadium on July 11th- is simply to wake up, because it’s a long way back from  Johannesburg.











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