GROUP B PREVIEW

Group B originally looked like one of the toughest in the World Cup Draw. However in the past few weeks, arguably the most important player for each of the three serious contenders from this group has fallen with a serious injury. This makes prognostication of this group particularly risky, but certain variables will remain the same regardless of the who is healthy and who is not. While England looked solid in Tuesday’s 3-1 win over Hungary, they still look uncomfortable without Rooney up front.

Sven Goran Eriksson’s rocky but successful tenure as manager of England will come to and end at the end of the World Cup. Eriksson’s has restored English confidence and pride in its national Football squad, but he has not advanced the squad past the final eight at either the European Championships or the World Cup. This cup was supposed to be different, until Wayne Rooney, possibly the best young Footballer in the world was injured in a match versus Chelsea in April. The rise of Rooney who is destined to be mentioned among the all time greats of English Football (alongside Bobby Charlton, Bobby Moore, Gordon Banks, Gary Linekar, etc.) had done so much to revive the sagging hopes of a Football mad nation. Now it appears, England will have to wait four more years to make a run at the ultimate prize.The English squad has some major deficiencies that probably would have prevented a world title even with a healthy Rooney.

Now those come into open view in Rooney’s absence. The team has excess of talented center backs, such as Rio Ferdinand, John Terry, Sol Campbell, and Jamie Carragher. However, Eriksson doesn’t have a particularly strong stable of outside defenders which are critical in England’s long ball attack. Gary Neville and Ashley Cole are likely to start outside but neither inspires a whole lot of confidence.The midfield is outstanding, being led by Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard. Oh and England also has some guy named Beckham. Keep an eye on speedy Aaron Lennon, a youngster who showed great skill this past season with Totenham, and was a controversial selection of Eriksson’s. Jermaine Jenas, who also plays for Spurs, and the versatile Joe Cole could contribute as well. England is absolutely loaded in the midfield. Gerrard had to play a little bit of a withdrawn striker in the Hungary friendly and despite scoring a goal, he looked uncomfortable.

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