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Slovenia Poses Danger to England

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England got the draw of dreams on Friday facing off with three weaker sides, and avoiding any Sub-Saharan Africa or South American competition at least at the Group Stage. The Three Lions who under the seeding criteria were close to being knocked off in favor of France, now is an overwhelming favorite to win the group.

Fabio Capello’s men open with a somewhat talented United States team that is often undisciplined and disorganized on the big occasions, before facing Algeria, one of the weakest teams in the entire tournament. The United States lacks the organization on the pitch and the composure to break down England in a World Cup match.

The one caveat to the above statement is if Jermaine Jones from Schalke who recently was approved for a switch from Germany to the US features in the American midfield. Jones has a skill set the other American players lack: a good ball winner with excellent technical skill and the ability to play dangerous balls forward from a withdrawn role.

England faces a potentially dangerous hurdle in the final group match against Slovenia. England and Slovenia played a friendly of note recently at Wembley. It was a close encounter with Slovenia playing well in large spells but ultimately coming up short largely because of a Wayne Rooney dive that drew a penalty kick. A Slovene side that defeated Russia over two legs will not be an easy out in any major tournament as some may think.

Slovenia also defeated automatic qualifier Slovakia in the next to last UEFA matchday. The game played in Bratislava was a one sided affair that showed Slovenia can play away from home in a hostile atmosphere and excel.

Rene Krhin is a young flair player to keep an eye on for Slovenia. Milivoje Novakovic is an effective striker for Koln in the Bundesliga and has also done a masterful job for Slovenia. Another player, I am familiar with is Real Betis man, Branco Illic who has been playing in Russia this year. He’s a superior man marker that can slide inside and serve as a physical presence in central defense.

In the two leg playoff versus Russia, the Slovenes kept their shape well and countered particularly down the right side. Yuri Zhirkov of Chelsea had a nightmare tie, perhaps because he isn’t in the Carlo Ancelotti’s setup currently.

Slovenia is dangerous, but if England takes care of buisiness in the first two matches, as I expect, then a draw will be all the Three Lions need to win the group.

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15 Comments

15 Comments

  1. Curtis

    December 7, 2009 at 10:10 am

    Rooney says: “”The USA are a good team. I saw them play Spain in the Confederations Cup on telly. That’ll be the difficult game for us.” Just FYI.

  2. jleau

    December 6, 2009 at 10:18 pm

    Wow it didn’t take long for Kartik to cue up the UK butt kissing. If the US can beat Spain they are certainly capable of giving the English all they want. The English are not near as good as either Spain or Brazil.

    I’m not saying the US is going to win the group but we got a good draw. England is one of the easier seeded teams to draw far better than Spain, Brazil, or the Dutch for that matter.

  3. Curtis

    December 6, 2009 at 7:29 pm

    The US side is kind of an enigma, that’s for sure. But I think you are wrong assuming that England will brush the US off. In fact, I would have focused more on the US game (and written an article about that) if I would have speculated on this. The Slovenia side is, as you said, very defensively minded and organized. They hold their own in the back, but have little to offer going forward. The games against Russia were some of the most painful football that I have seen in ages. The games where the US “leaks goals” is against sides that are able to play a strong attacking lineup. If the US is presented with a defensive side, the US will hold possession and dictate play. While Jermaine Jones would be a different look to the side, I like his near-prescient through balls, it is not guaranteed that he would have a position in this side — the US is loaded in central midfield. I also agree that the winner of the US-Slovenia game will advance, but I think that the US has a chance to surprise England.

  4. Leon

    December 6, 2009 at 7:24 pm

    I didn’t have to look at the byline to realize this dreck was written by Kartik.

    “Fabio Capello’s men open with a somewhat talented United States team that is often undisciplined and disorganized on the big occasions, before facing Algeria, one of the weakest teams in the entire tournament. The United States lacks the organization on the pitch and the composure to break down England in a World Cup match”

    Learn how to structure a paragraph coherently bud.

  5. Gunner JD

    December 6, 2009 at 5:20 pm

    The US might give England a scare, and probably play them to the hilt. A moment of luck could even get the US the points, but that is not terribly likely. An early plucky goal or two from the English and us Yankees would probably wilt.

    Kartik, I don’t think it’s really a question of composure or organisation. They are reasonably well coached (no really), and I think they will be properly prepared for such an enormous tournament. It simply comes down to quality, plain and simple. The English have more class on the pitch, better and scarier finishers, and you can’t really even compare the midfields. The US men, for all their determination and grit (if they choose to show it) cannot expect to face the likes of Lampard, Gerrard, Milner, Beckham, Lennon, or what have you, and have any chance of exerting any dominion over the game. The English have the capacity to dominate in the middle of the park, and if they don’t underestimate the Americans, they surely will.

    I’m willing to bet the bigger issue for the USA will be getting points from this Slovenia team you’re talking about.

    • Kartik Krishnaiyer

      December 6, 2009 at 5:26 pm

      I agree- I think the Slovenia/USA winner advances and the loser doesn’t. A draw means the team that loses by smallest scoreline to England get through. Slovenia doesn’t score many goals but also does not concede many.

      The US scores goals at a pretty good clip but also leaks in the back. Since goals scored are eventually a tie breaker maybe the USA has a slight edge if the two teams draw.

      Algeria could factor in as well. They have an aggressive side but lack continuity and consistency. I liked what I saw from them against Egypt in the playoff but still wouldn’t rate them at least yet on the US or Slovenia’s level.

      After all, beating Egypt and beating Russia are two different things entirely. Slovenia beat a team many thought was a dark horse to go a long way in the World Cup.

  6. Mac Ingram

    December 6, 2009 at 4:02 pm

    Wow “undisciplined and disorganized” the U.S. constantly keeps composure and performs well in big matches. The England v U.S. match will be hard fought and a good one to watch. I’m going to go ahead and predict a draw with the U.S. and England both advancing out of the group. Tim Howard will keep us alive!!!

    • Kartik Krishnaiyer

      December 6, 2009 at 4:27 pm

      The number of bookings and how badly the US loses its shape in big matches is what my reference point is. The Spain game everybody likes to cite was more an outlier than the typical data point.

      The number of quick goals the US has given up after halftime in big games under Bradley, as well as the US record against Eastern European teams also have to be considered when assessing the US in this group. Unlike the US under Arena and Sampson, which would concede goals and then settle down, under Bradley goals are scored against the US in bunches.

      That’s a bad sign for a World Cup.

      • Eddie

        December 7, 2009 at 9:16 am

        While I can’t necessarily diagree with what you’ve written here, the one thing to remember is the number of players Bradley selected over the past two years. A lot of the disorganization and giving up goals in bunches came in matches where the likely starting 11 were not on the pitch together (though I am not including the Confederations Cup final loss to Brazil there).

  7. Robert

    December 6, 2009 at 3:31 pm

    Agreed brn442 – the same US team that beat Brazil in the Confederations Cup and finished first in CONCACAF? I think you are taking the US a little too lightly.

    • Jay

      December 6, 2009 at 4:14 pm

      They did not beat Brazil.

      • brn442

        December 6, 2009 at 4:27 pm

        Point taken Jay….My error. They certainly gave Brazil the scariest first 45 minutes they’ve had in years

        • brn442

          December 6, 2009 at 4:51 pm

          To be fair, I never said Brazil were beaten but they were broken down — twice

  8. brn442

    December 6, 2009 at 1:53 pm

    The writer says that the US “lacks the discipline or the organization” to break England down.Hmmm, I thought they did exactly that against Spain and Brazil in the Confederations Cup or was I dreaming that they did? The pro England complacency has already begun in the media. Thank God Fabio usually takes nothing for granted.

  9. Evan

    December 6, 2009 at 11:45 am

    1. England 9 pts
    2. USA 6 pts
    3. Slovenia 1pt
    4. Algeria 1pt

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