England – Useless or the best team in living memory..?

Finally, after what seems like the longest build up to a major sporting event in history, South Africa 2010 World Cup starts. Get ready for all the usual...

Finally, after what seems like the longest build up to a major sporting event in history,  South Africa 2010 World Cup starts! Get ready for the usual media frenzy – one morning England will be the greatest team in living memory and the next useless after being beaten by the giants of Algeria!

England - watch out for Algerian giantkillers!

You have to be realistic when looking at England’s chances. The bookies have us as third favourites behind Spain and Brazil at 7/1 which is ridiculous so don’t be lulled into thinking ‘this is value, I must have a bet!’  Sure we should qualify through our group without too much trouble, I would expect us to top the group with wins over USA, ALGERIA, and SLOVENIA it’s after that the competition really starts.

It’s dangerous to look too far ahead as these things never pan out as expected but it’s possible our next opponents will be Serbia. Again on paper we should go through but we are now into knockout football where anything could happen, including dare I say it the dreaded ” penalties “!!

Now it really gets tricky! In order to actually become world champions we might have to beat France, Brazil and Spain, in that order! Now as much as I would love that to happen I honestly can’t see it! Admittedly France are in decline and have a manager Raymond Domenech who, even in his own country, makes Alistair Campbell look popular! Nevertheless they still have many outstanding players and on any given day they could beat anyone.

Brazil I gather are not as flamboyant as normal but unusually for them they are far more disciplined and in Cesar  they have for the first time a great keeper. I can see them making it to the Final.

As for the winners I would have to go for Spain, quite simply they have the best team, play the best football and have some great players. The fact Cesc Fabregas can’t get into their team is quite remarkable, the talent they have at their disposal England could only dream of.  In Villa and Torres they have the most potent strike force, which in tournament football is vital as chances don’t come along frequently and when they do you have to take them. For years they flattered to deceive but winning Euro 2008 finally got the ”  monkey off the back ” and in my eyes they     are worthy favourites.

Villa and Torres - a potent strike force

Others to consider are the usual suspects, Argentina, Germany Italy and Holland. Argentina have some great players and in Messi, without doubt, they have the best player in the world, however they have in Maradona a manager who is quite simply mad!! I doubt he can keep them all singing from the same hymn sheet. The Germans will be their usual efficient self and will as always be difficult to beat, but I’m not sure they have enough class to go all the way and they will miss their talisman Ballack. Italy have had a bad build up and according to Italian press are in ” disarray “. They have several key injuries and although they could still be dangerous I’ll overlook them this time. With the Dutch it’s always the same –  great players with the talent to win, trouble is they aren’t consistent and never play two games the same.  Can beat anyone but also lose to anyone!

In summary Spain are my selection, with England possibly making it to the Semi- Finals. Let’s just hope the tournament lives up to the hype and we get an exciting and open World Cup with plenty of goals!

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