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Discussion: England get luck of the draw

  1. #1
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    Par défaut England get luck of the draw

    Post categories: 2010 World Cup
    Phil McNulty | 20:00 UK time, Friday, 4 December 2009
    BBC Sport .

    Fabio Capello's facial expressions are traditionally set in stone during serious business - but England's coach must have struggled to contain a smile as he was handed a generous Fifa 2010 World Cup draw amid the pomp and ceremony of Cape Town.

    The traditional talk of England's potential involvement in a "Group Of Death", step forward Group G, was soon banished as Capello cast his eyes over a section of the draw he could have hand-picked himself.

    "It's not so bad," announced Capello in a masterpiece of understatement as he surveyed England's three opponents in World Cup Group C, the United States, Algeria and Slovenia.

    England must beware being suckered into believing a red carpet to the last 16 has been rolled out before them. The United States beat Spain before losing to Brazil in last summer's Confederations Cup final in South Africa, Slovenia revel in the role of underdogs and Algeria's "Desert Foxes" are a technically gifted side.

    But, in reality, if England are to fulfil Capello's claim that "we have to win it", they can safely say the draw, with David Beckham in attendance, has already increased optimism.


    England's big fear was either France or Portugal being dropped into their group, while the hugely dangerous Ivory Coast, a side tipped to lead the African challenge, were also avoided. So a good day's work for Capello and his cohorts in Cape Town.

    And an added bonus came as their first game will against the United States in Rustenburg, where Capello hopes England can establish their World Cup basecamp, on Saturday 12 June. It means the Italian can finalise preparations for the all-important opening encounter from close to England's temporary South African home.

    England's curtain-raiser will be at an altitude of 1500m in Rustenburg but it is then back down to sea level to play in Cape Town and Port Elizabeth, again something Capello may regard as a plus.

    If England qualify, and it would be an uncomfortable moment for all concerned at the airport arrivals lounge if they don't, then potential hurdles in the latter stages are hazardous but not insurmountable.

    Capello's men will face one of Germany, Ghana, Australia or Serbia in the last 16, with the potential for a meeting with Raymond Domenech's France, arguably a fading force and fortunate to be in South Africa, in the quarter-finals.

    If England do navigate a route past those countries, the semi-final might be the stage where life gets very dangerous, with the distinct possibility of a meeting with Brazil, who eased past them when Capello was forced to field a below-strength team in Doha.

  2. #2
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    Par défaut

    Algeria are ranked 28th in the world and playing in the tournament for the first time in 24 years. They showed their mettle by coming through a tension-riddled one-match play-off against Egypt in the Sudan. Plenty of European-based players means they will be well-acquainted with England, but if Capello's side cannot come through this unscathed then they will not deserve to progress beyond the group phase.

    Slovenia fall into the same category. England can rightly expect to feel the critical backlash should they slip up, but they must not make the mistake of under-estimating a side that outmanouevred Guus Hiddink's highly regarded Russia over two legs in the play-offs.

    The fact that England have been handed a group with two sides that needed to go down the play-off route to actually reach South Africa also suggests they have enjoyed good fortune - and it is an opportunity they must not squander.

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