Sunday, June 20, 2010

Scrappy and slack England held to a draw again

Group C, 18:30 GMT, June 18, 2010
Green Point Stadium, Cape Town, South Africa

0 - 0

There was no happy birthday for Fabio Capello in Cape Town as England were booed by their own supporters following a dreadful performance against Algeria that leaves them needing to beat Slovenia to guarantee their World Cup progress.

The maths are now quite simple. Beat Slovenia - when they will be without the suspended Jamie Carragher - in Port Elizabeth on Wednesday and England have scrambled their way into thes econd round. Fail and in all probability they will go home.

Against a side ranked 30th in the world, and from a continent that has never beaten England, in front of Prince William, the Three Lions were supposed to deliver a performance fit for a king.
How wrong that assumption was. England's lack of guile was embarrassing at times and it took Capello's men until three minutes before the break to retain possession for any decent period.

Scoring Summary


Man of the Match: - Nadir Belhadj


  • Man of the Match: - Nadir Belhadj. He showed plenty of acceleration throughout and was always looking to get the cross in, causing Glen Johnson plenty of problems. In defence, he also made a crucial interception when Emile Heskey was through on goal. Karim Ziani was also impressive early on, pulling the strings in midfield, although he faded as the game went on.

  • England verdict: Completely outfought and constantly outnumbered in the middle of the field, England always seemed hurried and never had the opportunity to build their self-confidence. As the game went on, their passing grew steadily worse and worse. Despite having suffered similar problems using a 4-4-2 against a 4-5-1 in the first half of the warm-up match against Japan, it was surprising to see Fabio Capello so reluctant to bring on someone like Joe Cole or even Michael Carrick to help assert some control.

  • Algeria verdict: From the off, they looked more composed in possession and comfortable with their gameplan, restricting the space for England in midfield by playing a 4-5-1 formation and breaking at pace. While they never looked likely to win it, they will feel they have carried out their plans to perfection and were the better team on the night.

  • Could do better: Wayne Rooney - As so often for England, he looked frustrated and isolated, but even his usually assured touch completely deserted him against Algeria. With Emile Heskey putting in a poor performance, too, England's attacks constantly broke down as soon as they reached the front two.

  • Stat attack: Algeria had never kept a clean sheet in their previous seven World Cup matches.

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