World Cup Preview: England vs. Algeria

England started their World Cup campaign with their supporters truly believing that the time for England to win the World Cup was finally here. The Three Lions had a very successful qualification campaign and truly looked like worthy contenders for the highest prize. In the first four minutes of their opening game against USA, they scored and long-suffering England supporters the world over rejoiced. However as the game went, euphoria soon gave way to disbelief, England were starting to look hauntingly similar to the England of past World Cup campaigns. They lacked creativity, their passing lack precision and the players seemed to lack the desire and the belief.  And then, a fumble by the goalkeeper lead to England losing their 1 goal advantage and the imageof a free-flowing, potential world cup winning team was shattered yet again . England need to win this game to make their supporters believe in them once again.

Algeria kicked off their World Cup against Slovenia, a game they’d like to erase from their memories. They were left struggling against Slovenia with 10-men after Abdelkader Ghezzal was sent off for a ridiculous handball. Then just like the English, the Algerians became victims of a goal-keeping error causing them to lose the game 1-0.

England must win today, if they are to ensure their progress to the last 16. A win today, gives England the added advantage of finishing top of this Group C and therefore avoiding playing Germany in the next round.

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England

Ranking: 8

It is England manager Fabio Capello’s 64th birthday today and all 3 points will make the perfect birthday present. England have enough quality to beat the North Africans whose 4-5-1 formation would clearly make it hard for England midfielders to find space against the barrier of midfielders. Fabio Capello has yet to disclose his first choice goalkeeper for the match. The Italian had said earlier in the week that Robert Green would keep his position in goal despite his error in the USA game which gifted USA the equaliser. Reports now suggest that Green will most likely be replaced by David James.

Another change to the England line-up is that Gareth Barry returns from injury to play in today’s match while Ledley King who got injured in England’s last game is replaced by Jamie Carragher at the back. Gareth Barry’s return means Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard will be able to return to a more advanced offensive role. Capello will most likely stick to a 4-4-2 with Wayne Rooney and Emile Heskey (!!!) up front. Although Emile Heskey is sure to start, Capello might look to striker Jermaine Defoe t play amajor role in Plan B. Just like the last match, it looks like both Peter Crouch and Joe Cole will not get starts and will be on the bench.

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Algeria

Ranking: 30

Algeria hardly created any clear-cut chances against Slovenia but they will be desperate to get at least one point from this match to keep their slim chance of qualifying from this group alive. They play on England’s weakness of being unable to break down a strong  defenses and will rely on counter attacks to score. Their goalkeeper Faouzi Chaouchi missed a training session on Wednesday due to a sprained ankle and is doubtful for the match. Their manager, Rabah Saadane decided to drop captain Yazid Mansouri to the bench ahead of the defeat against Slovenia leading to many players questioning the manager’s judgment. Algeria’s 4-5-1 formation means that the England midfielders will need to be more creative than they usually are, to break down the Algerian defense. England also need to be aware of Algeria’s power striker Rafik Djebbour whose pace, aerial ability and direct threat can cause problems for England’s somewhat slow (old) back four.

England will need to be patient, keep their organisation and focus for 90 minutess to win this game.

Manager Speak

“If you ask me what I want, I would say no more mistakes. I thought we created so many chances in the first game and this time we need to take them.” – Fabio Capello

“England have their backs to the wall.We have nothing to lose and everything to win.” – Rabah Saadane, Algeria manager

Stars to Watch Out For

England: Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard, Gareth Barry, Wayne Rooney

Algeria: Rafik Djebbour, Nadir Belhadj, Hassan Yebda

Go Figure!

This will be the first ever meeting between England and Algeria.

England have not lost any of the 15 matches they have played against an African side, winning 11 and drawing four.

Algeria have failed to keep a clean sheet in the seven previous World Cup matches they have played in.


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