World Cup blog: the pre-tournament jitters

In the past week Capello’s men have spluttered their way through two World Cup warm up matches. First up was Mexico at Wembley where England were let off the hook by sloppy finishing from Javier Aguirre’s team. That win was followed up by a flat performance against a weak Japan side who managed to put the ball in the net three times—unfortunately for them, two of the finishes were in their own net which gifted England an undeserved 2-1 victory.


Xavi and his Spanish team mates edged to a 3-2 victory over Saudi Arabia at the weekend. Photo: Alfonso Jimenez

It’s official—pessimism has started to edge its way back into the mentality of the English football fan. England were world beaters a fortnight ago. Football was coming ‘home’. But after the uninspiring events of the past ten days, England supporters have had their rose-tinted glasses knocked from their faces (probably by a wayward Emile Heskey strike). No way are depth-lacking England the third most-likely winners of this World Cup. Wayne Rooney aside, England are no world beaters.

But England are not the only sufferers of pre-tournament anxiety.

A rusty Spain side, the favourites for this month’s tournament, needed an injury time header from Fernando Llorente to see off minnows Saudi Arabia 3-2 on Saturday.

Serbia are potential second round opponents for England if both teams get through their group, but the Balkan team will be hoping for a better performance than that which they put in at the weekend. New Zealand beat a strong Serbia team 1-0 with former Mansfield ‘hotshot’ Shane Smeltz grabbing the goal.

And England’s Group C opponents Algeria had already received a massive blow to their hopes last week when talismanic playmaker Mourad Meghni was ruled out of the World Cup with a knee injury. By following that news up with a 3-0 slaughtering at the hands of the Republic of Ireland, their preparations for South Africa are at a catastrophic low.

But World Cup warm up matches are unlikely to count for a lot by the time June 11th comes around. In which case, nobody needs to worry. England are still on course for world domination. Apparently.

2 Responses to World Cup blog: the pre-tournament jitters

  1. Interesting article, England worry me and always seem to be cautious and shaky in the final stages of major tournaments. Spain are quite rightly favourites, but for me the dark horses are Germany and unbelievably with some bookmakers in the UK, the 2006 world champions Italy are 16-1 to defend their title.

  2. Bradley King says:

    Lee,

    Couldn’t agree with you more. I think the bookies have massively under rated the chances of both Italy and Germany who are at something like 14s for the trophy. As an outside bet, Portugal are a ridiculously huge price at 33s.