GROUP D REVIEW AND PREVIEW:
Underachieving England faces MUST WIN game; U.S. needs to score early – and often
Advancing: United States and England Going Home: Algeria and Slovenia
Let’s face it…the U.S. is really in a must-win situation, although a tie could get them into the round of 16, if everything else goes perfectly…but why chance that? A victory Wednesday against Algeria sends the Yanks into the knock-out round…probably against Germany (but that has not been decided yet). If the U.S. ties, everyone better hope that England also ties or loses their game against Slovenia, or we go home.
FIFA did one thing right (obviously they cannot find ONE competent referee from the U.S., but found possibly the LEAST-COMPETENT one from Mali) this Cup. Each group’s third game will be played simultaneously. This means the U.S. and England will both be on the pitch at the same time, against different opponents, in different stadiums in South Africa. Each team is desperate for a win…and scoreboard watching will be exciting for fans and the teams as well. In the past, one of these games would have been played at different times, which lead to some strange things happening in the later games, since the teams knew EXACTLY what they needed to do – or not do – to get through to the Round of 16.
England has been shocked with two ties (U.S. and Algeria) so far in the Cup. The U.S. also has two ties (England and Slovenia), but we have scored two more goals than England, so we are technically ahead in a tie-breaker.
Here is the breakdown:
IF the U.S. WINS – they go onto the Round of 16 no matter what England does.
If the U.S. TIES – they go onto the round of 16 if England loses or ties. If England wins, the U.S. goes home.
If the U.S. LOSES – we go home no matter what happens in the England-Slovenia game.
In a nutshell, just go out and get an early goal and keep pouring it on. WIN…and we’re IN!
Algeria presents a different kind of opponent…not an easy team by any means, as England found out. They lost by one goal to Slovenia, so Algeria has just one point. The U.S. and England have two and Slovenia, controls their fate as well, has four.
“If Algeria plays to its potential, we don’t need to worry about our opponents,” midfielder Karim Matmour said Sunday. “If we play our style of football, we can beat anyone.”
The Desert Foxes know it will be difficult playing a higher-ranked U.S. team (14th vs. 30th for Algeria). Team captain Anther Yahia said, “Our strength is playing collectively. We know if we don’t play as a team we can’t win.”
Let me tell you something else…the U.S. feels EXACTLY the same way. We may not have the better individual players (compared to England) but collectively, as a team, they knew they were superior. Yes, with just two ties to show for themselves, it is ultimately a team game. Each team has a lot at stake – the U.S. has the usual hopes of a nation…we keep waiting for soccer to explode here (I have been hearing this since my high school days) and if we keep advancing, it will be better for the game in the states.
Algeria wants to advance to the knockout stage for the first time ever in the World Cup. They want to do it on African soil.
One problem for Algeria – they have yet to score a goal…but, on the other hand, the U.S. has yet to have a clean sheet. Sounds like a dream match-up, doesn’t it. I just don’t want to see the U.S. get down a goal or two and HAVE to come back. Why not do what they did in the Confederation Cup against Egypt…go out and score some early goals…and see if the other team can come back.
I am predicting a U.S. VICTORY in this game…and a victory for England, who is really under the gun back home, over Slovenia. As I said in an earlier article…the U.S. and England will advance, even though it has been a much tougher group than imagined when the selection show was presented last year.
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