With the hosts crashing out of the Tournament last night, making them the only host nation in World Cup history not to make the knock-out stages the heat is on England to live up to pre-tournament expectation. South Africa put on a determined display and led France 2-0 at half time. With results in the other group match going their way it was down to goal difference and another South African goal would have seen them secured as group runners up. Sadly the next goal came from France which sealed the host nations demise in the group.
They should stand proud however, they beat a French side that was without doubt the disappointment of the tournament. In-fighting within the team and a lack of unity lead to very poor performances on the pitch. France manager, Domenech could not bring himself to shake the hand of the South Africa manager, which was a very sad moment for the game, in my opinion they left the competition fair and square, but failed to leave with dignity.
So from group A, France and South Africa bow out, while Uruguay and Mexico progress. Group B is also wrapped up and hot favourites Argentina brushed aside a defensively minded Greece to progress with maximum points, joined by South Korea after a determined fightback against Nigeria to earn themselves a place in the last 16. Nigeria, already out and joined by Greece at the airport. Today seems Group C and D decided, with England needing to secure their first win of the tournament against Slovenia to guarantee progress to the last 16, whilst Germany and Ghana look favourite to progress from group D.
Amazingly Lionel Messi of Argentina has yet to get off the mark in his challenge for the Golden boot, for me so far the player of the tournament and last night saw his fair share of bad luck, striking the woodwork a number of times! With Christiano Ronaldo off the mark, the race is on and from Portugals 7-0 drubbing of North Korea, they look full of goals, god help their opposition when he starts to fire on all cylinders. Another contender has to be David Villa of Spain who bagged a brace of goals against Honduras on Monday, but he nay rue that missed penalty!
As for England, with only 1 goal chalked up so far, the fans and manager alike will be looking for far more this afternoon. Rooney, a top tip for golden boot looks a shadow of the player that pulls on the Manchester United shirt week in week out. I think its time for a bit of adventure from the manager and to throw caution to the wind. England can win by simply scoring more goals than their opponents, but this is often hindered by the conservative team selection from the manager, lets see Joe Cole in the line-up and take the game to them.
We’ve seen so many times in this tournament teams playing to their strengths and getting 0-0 draws or even pinching a win against sides that have got frustrated by a defensive set-up. I think if Joe Cole starts, England will win 3-0, if Cole is left out, we could be welcoming our national team home in the morning.
Slovenia 0 – 3 England
USA 2 – 0 Algeria
Australia 1 – 0 Serbia
Ghana 0 – 3 Germany