No more messing about for England now. It wouldn’t be a World Cup without England dropping points in the group stage, and they duly delivered by dropping two points against the USA last Saturday. That result could prove to be a good one—but only if the Three Lions now pick up two consecutive wins against Algeria and Slovenia.
Manager Fabio Capello has admitted that he knows the majority of his starting line-up for the Algeria game, with only two positions to be decided. The first is the much debated goalkeeping position, where he must decide whether to keep faith with Robert Green or throw the gloves to David James or Joe Hart. He must also decide whether to hand Jermain Defoe a start or stick with Emile Heskey.
Heskey had an excellent game against the Americans, but missed a vital one-on-one opportunity which would have given England three points had he slotted it away. Defoe is undoubtedly more clinical than the Aston Villa target man and his lightning speed could worry the less-than-convincing Algerian defence. It would be a brave decision though to select Defoe, who has barely started an international with Wayne Rooney and the Manchester United striker has only scored once in the 654 minutes they have played together. And with Emile Heskey being Rooney’s preferred frontline partner, it seems he may well keep his place.
The Algerians should not provide too much of a test for England. Their 1-0 defeat to Slovenia means that they must get a result against Capello’s side to keep alive their chances of qualifying for the second round. But their main threat from that opening game, striker Abdelkader Ghezzal, is ruled out through suspension. And like their opponents, the “Desert Foxes” have goalkeeping issues after Faouzi Chaouchi’s howler against the Slovenians.
Algeria might focus their attacks down the left flank. Nadir Belhadj of Portsmouth often provided a threat from left back in their opening game. With Glen Johnson so keen to get forward and link up with Aaron Lennon down England’s right flank, it could be something the Algerians look to exploit. Johnson will probably be told by Capello to limit his outrageous expeditions, which might mean we see more of Lennon.
In under a week we will know England’s opponents in the last 16. That is assuming we get there. Surely?Tweet