Tag Archives: England

Dave Hanratty’s Winners & Losers – Bumper Edition!

Winners

Germany
Total destruction and total football. All four goals were of supreme quality as was the build-up play in general, featuring flicks and tricks normally associated with Brazil. What was particularly impressive was the patience of the Germans. The first fifteen minutes of the second half saw them very much on the backfoot, fending off a rejuvenated England. Ultimately they played possum and picked their moment before delivering knockout punches to the opposition.
While England have themselves to blame for giving so much room and respect to their old enemy, the Germans earned their praise by playing outstanding football and by being three or four steps ahead of their opponent at every turn. In the end 4-1 was somewhat respectable considering Joachim Low’s men took their foot off the pedal during the final stretch and were content to pass the ball around.
If Germany can match this performance for the remainder of the competition then they must be considered favourites, however it is doubtful that they will have an easier task than this ahead of them.
Mesut Özil

A star is born.
Argentina

Benefitted from a poor decision to kick things off before putting Mexico to the sword as expected. One wonders what they would do with the space England afforded the Germans.
Javier Hernández

Mexico are going home but the young striker has given Alex Ferguson something to think about.
Uruguay

Few predicted they would have gotten this far and the South Americans will fancy themselves to at least make the semi-finals. It’s a pleasure to see the inaugural tournament winners play with such confidence and composure in 2010.
Luis Suárez
Finally coming good after a quiet start, the 23-year-old Ajax forward won the game with a goal worthy of winning the tournament, made all the more emphatic by being framed by the lashing rain.
Ghana

The sole remaining African team kept their heads and were worthy victors. It was a shame to see time-wasting and play-acting tactics employed at the end but that’s the modern game for you.
Brazil & Portugal

Did what they had to do, boring everyone to death in the process.

Losers

England


But will they learn anything from it? Not likely. While they will rightly feel aggrieved following Lampard’s “goal that never was”, England had plenty of opportunities to level things and failed to take them. It’s the oldest cliché in the book that goals change games and 2-2 certainly makes things much more balanced, but hypothetical arguments are a waste of time when you are outplayed and outclassed by a superior side, as England unquestionably were.
Since the opening game these players have not played together. In this game they committed footballing suicide by repeatedly straying from their positions, thus giving the Germans the space they needed to duly tear England apart.
Fabio Capello
While the F.A.’s appointed talking head was quick to assure gathered journalists that Capello’s contract runs until 2012, his body language and veiled statements painted a different picture. The truth is that should Capello get his marching orders, he’s better off for it. Not only shall he benefit financially but why would a man of his pedigree wish to be denigrated by a myopic media and idiotic fanbase that place the blame of England’s failure directly at his door?
The reality is that the England job is a poisoned chalice for any manager. How does one get the best out of a team that fails to play like one? In the aftermath of their humiliation, the majority of fingers are being pointed at the Italian. This is no surprise and of course the manager must accept responsibility (and Capello has) but the real questions must be asked of a collection of selfish individuals who refused to follow their orders and were mauled because of it.
Wayne Rooney
It really is unfair to single out one English player considering they were all abject but considering Rooney was touted as the man to carry the hopes of a nation on his broad shoulders and deliver glory only for him to fail to turn up in any of the four games played, it’s a pretty poor ending to a story laced with optimism, hope and unrealistic hyperbole.
Frank Lampard
A shame to see one of the only players to emerge with any semblance of credit piss it all away by proclaiming that “Nobody can tell me that Germany were much better than us. Not 4-1 better.”
Sorry Frank but even Stevie Wonder can tell you that.
Gabriel Heinze

The ex-Manchester United defender was most certainly not ready for his close-up.
Linesmen

Both of Sunday’s games featured terrible officiating from the men at the side of the pitch. England will debate long into the night about Lampard’s Pedro Mendes-esque “goal” while Carlos Tevez was clearly offside for Argentina’s first goal. The ugly debate about goal-line technology has reared its head once again while FIFA remain stubborn. Perhaps a more pertinent question would be why FIFA didn’t employ the additional goal-line officials that worked so well in the Europa League?
USA
Ran out of comebacks. Their admirable team spirit and work ethic masked a worrying lack of depth. Outside of Donovan, Dempsey and Howard the Americans lack leaders and special players. They simply have not progressed enough since the previous World Cup (where incidentally they also fell at the feet of the Ghanaians) and despite the profile of “soccer” rising in the country, the team hasn’t evolved enough.
South Korea

Captain Ji-Sung Park wanted a repeat of their semi-final charge of 2002 but it wasn’t to be.
Optimists
Gary Linker claimed before Brazil/Portugal that anything less than a 4-4 scoreline would give license payers the right to complain. Considering the stage of the competition and what was needed from both teams it was silly to expect anything other than what we got.
Mick McCarthy

Like the French, poor Mick just doesn’t want to be there. Greeting the additional five minutes at the end of the game with howls of derision, Mick exclaimed “Get them off! It’s been awful!”. Poor chap.
Cheats
Friday saw a splurge of poor sportsmanship. The Brazil/Portugal snoozefest saw Duda and Tiago booked for ordering the referee to send a player off and diving respectively while Fernando Torres continued to endear himself to everyone other than Liverpool fans by pulling off the most embarrassing dive seen on a football pitch since Alberto Gilardino took the piss against Celtic in the Champions League a couple of years ago.
Perhaps Torres belongs in the winners column as his pathetic actions got Chile’s Marco Estrada sent off but El Nino would later tweak his ankle and his game would end in the 54th minute. It’s been a poor showing from the Liverpool striker thus far, and he will know it.

World Cup Daily – International Press

Das Bild (Germany): Germany’s most popular tabloid reacted with glee to Die Mannschaft‘s victory over England. Das Bild proclaimed, “Jungs, we love you!”, a reference to the Jogi Löw’s young side and their phenomenal performance against the Three Lions.

Die Welt (Germany): Jetzt sind Deutschland and England quitt” (Now, Germany and England are even):

Die Welt described Frank Lampard’s controversial effort as ‘revenge for the Wembley goal’, referring of course to Geoff Hurst’s equally contentious strike against West Germany in 1966. In that case, the goal was given when perhaps it should not have been. The broadsheet prints a dizzying and unconventional match report, which emphasises the dream-like quality the result had for German fans.

The Mirror (United Kingdom): “FABIGO”


The Mirror pulled no punches in its evaluation of the defeat. Fabio Capello, they say has to go. The Mirror bemoans the new contract offered to the former Real Madrid manager just before the tournament which, they say, will entitle him to a vast sum in compensation.

The Sun: “Time to go Fabio. Clear off and take your players with you.”

The Sun also subscribes to the idea that the Italian is at fault while also offering partial blame to the players who they say “shamed the shirt”. The Sun argues that England’s results in the Group Stage were indefensible, referring to the 1-0 victory over Slovenia as “scraping through”, despite having praised Capello and England after that particular performance in previous editions.

El Universal (Mexico) : Se van de la peor manera – Un gol que no debió contar abre el camino de la debacle tricolor y la despedida para varios veteranos que no volverán a un Mundial”

“Gone the worst way – A goal that should not have been opened the way for the tricolour’s meltdown and a farwell to several veterans who will never grace the World Cup again.”

The Mexican broadsheet criticises Italian referee, Roberto Rosetti, for allowing Argentina’s opening goal which was shown to be clearly offside. The World Cup ended for Mexico where it had all begun in , Soccer City. El Universal bid its farewell to Blanco, Perez, Torrado and Rafael Marquez and damns the Argentine performance as showing ‘no spectacular football’.

It was an all too familiar end for El Universal. The newspaper drew parallels with Mexico’s demise in 2006, also at the hand of the Albiceleste.

De Telegraaf (Netherlands): Column Cruijff: Chili neemt rol Nederland over

In his regular and always insightful column, Johan Cruyff states that he believes that Chile have taken over the Netherlands’ role as a ‘trendsetter’ of beautiful football. Cruyff lends his ardent support to Marcello Bielsa’s side which he says create more chances than anyone else and entertain more fans than any other side at this World Cup.

Cruyff also considers the new push for technology in football in the wake of yesterday’s events. He firmly believes that goalline video technology is fine but in other instances, such as offside, handball etc, Cruyff firmly believes that technology should be avoided. The former Barcelona manager argues that football is a ‘game of mistakes’ and that placing too much emphasis on video technology would hinter the sport rather than help it.

And finally

The Daily Mail, which in the lead up to England v Germany purveyed a lot of copy offensive to Germans took it a step further in the aftermath of England’s 4-1 defeat to Jogi Löw’s side.

Outspoken, right-wing columnist Richard Littlejohn had this to say:

And finally….again:

Our old friends in the New York Post have been at it again. Following the United States’ 2-1 defeat to Ghana after extra-time, ‘The Post’ has this to say about The Beautiful Game.


Technology debate rekindled in wake of questionable decisions

Two World Cup matches, two flashpoints. The widespread acclaim that greeted the referees at the outset of the 2010 World Cup has well and truly evaporated by now.

This World Cup has seen its share of controversial decisions. Having come back from a two goal deficit, the United States were wrongly denied a winner by referee Koman Coulibaly. The Malian official ruled out Michael Bradley’s late goal for a foul. Video technology would have revealed that no infringement took place in the Slovenian penalty area.

Kaká, one of the stars of world football, was dismissed for an apparent elbow against Côte d’Ivoire. Television replays revealed that Sebastien Lannoy was deceived by the Ivorian winger, Kader Keita. Kaká was suspended as a result of the incorrect decision.

The events of Sunday, June 27 will be impossible to forget for fans of England and Mexico. Frank Lampard’s legitimate goal against Germany, which may have had a profound effect on the outcome, was not given. A simple television replay would have given the referee the information required to make an informed decision. Goal-line technology has long been advocated by a large number of managers at both club and international level. A system similar to the famous Hawkeye technology  used in cricket and tennis matches could be utilised to great effect by FIFA. For some, the solutions are even simpler. Mark Ogden, The Daily Telegraph’s Northern Football Correspondent, shared a rudimentary, yet effective, idea via his Twitter page.

“Sandpit behind the line. If the ball is in, it will stop dead and won’t bounce. Simple.”

The suggestion initially seems laughable. On second look, it appears more sensible than ridiculous. In any case, it marks a marked improvement on incorrect or unfair decisions.

Sepp Blatter’s repeated rejection of calls for television replays are folly. Blatter, who once remarked that “we must never stop the match with videos or monitors to look at what has happened”, is clearly not a fan of other sports. Almost every other major sport has some form of “video referee”. In American football, coaches are given flags. In cases where a questionable decision is made by a the referees or umpires, the coach may throw one of his limited number of challenge flags onto the field and call for the referee’s decision to be ‘sent to the booth’. The match referee then consults the video replay and reevaluates his previous decision.

The apparent infallibility of referees in association football is misguided. As Carlos Tevez wheeled away in jubilation at having scored the opening goal in the Round of 16 match against Mexico, replays on the scoreboard at Soccer City showed how the Argentine was offside when Lionel Messi played the crucial assist to him. The fans, players, coaching staff and officials were instantly given access to a view at what had actually occurred. Mexico’s players were particularly incensed. They, rightly, angrily confronted Roberto Rosetti and his assistant. Having seen their mistake, the officials should have been given the authority to reverse the  decision. They were unable to do this. Mexico, demoralised by the goal, promptly conceded a second through a defensive error which may or may not have been the result of a lapse in concentration stemming from the earlier refereeing error.

The safety and welfare of referees is threatened by their inability to correct their mistakes. Referees have been targeted by tabloid campaigns and, far more worryingly, death threats. In the interest of fairness and in the interest of safety for their referees, FIFA must take positive action towards implementing corrective technology no matter what form that may take.

Dave Hanratty’s Winners & Losers – Day 13

Winners


England

Scored early and proceeded to defend their lead. Critics would call it suffocating the opposition and negative football while fans and sympathisers would refer to bravery and necessity. In reality it was a little bit of both, but the end result sees England through to the last sixteen, and the preceding results largely cast aside.

Fabio Capello’s post-match interview painted the picture of an emphatic Three Lions victory but the reality is somewhat different. While this was certainly an improvement for England, it was far from convincing. Slovenia barely turned up while Capello’s men were content to cancel out any opposing threat and retain their slim lead.

Following a week of embarrassment, mutiny and knee-jerk pessimism, England will be delighted to bring some positivity to their camp, but the threat of the old enemy awaits them on Sunday, and the Germans, like sharks, will smell blood in the water.

James Milner

Answered his critics by setting up the decisive goal and lived up to the task presented to him. Not  especially outstanding but solid, which was enough on this occasion.

USA

It would probably have been brought to court had the Americans not gone through. As it turned out they end up top of the group and will avoid Germany in the second round. It was nearly a very different story but for Landon Donovan’s late rescue.

Woodwork smashed, open goals missed and another perfectly valid goal disallowed, it seemed luck was against the good ol’ US of A, but good things come to those who wait and while Donovan’s winner was very much a final act twist, it was no less deserved. The resulting pile-up personified the team spirit that has been present throughout, and their presence in the final sixteen is very much welcome.

Landon Donovan

One wonders where the Americans would be without the invention and determination of the man they affectionately refer to as “LD”. While he may have faltered when previously employed in Europe, his brief stint at Everton at the close of last season, combined with his predatory prowess at South Africa 2010 has showed that Donovan has matured and developed into an exceptional footballer, capable of winning big games. His tears in the post-match interview were as genuine as his attitude throughout.

Germany

While their opponents put up a decent fight, the Germans had the edge. It’s been a fairly interesting campaign thus far for Joachim Lowe’s young team. The initial demolition of Australia sent everyone running scared, until Serbia got lucky and exposed weaknesses in the process. The victory over Ghana wasn’t convincing enough to cement Germany as unstoppable, but they should fancy themselves against England, who have had plenty of problems of their own. It remains to be seen just how far this youthful team can go, but the early signs are promising.

The ghosts of Bierhoff and Ballack do not seem to hang over the team and as such an attacking threat is ever present. It seems instinctual to associate Germany with rigid and dull football but it has anything but so far. Hopefully it shall continue.

Ghana

While they may have gotten lucky, they showed enough spirit and conviction to deserve their spot in the second round.

Losers


Wayne Rooney

Showed signs of improvement but still way off his best. His frustration was intensified when the unthinkable happened and Fabio Capello substituted him for Joe Cole.

Slovenia

Failed to turn up for their most important game.

Samir Handanovic and Lounes Gaouaoui

Two goalkeepers who really don’t deserve to be going home.

Jozy Altidore

Sleepless nights ahead for the American striker following the miss of the tournament.

Mark Lawrenson and anyone who had the misfortunate to listen to him

Awful. Just awful. It’s hardly a new and groundbreaking observation but seriously, Lawro has to be the worst commentator/analyst/pundit in the business. From his disgraceful bias to his painfully unfunny one-liners, I wanted to stick large knives through my eardrums the more he bleated on. Vuvuzelas are more appealing.

Germany beat Ghana to secure top spot

Germany 1-0 Ghana


Germany beat Ghana by a single goal in an enthralling contest in Soccer City. An unexpected win for Australia means that both teams progress to the Round of 16. Germany will now face England in what might prove to be the tie of the round, while Ghana will play Group C’s winners, the United States. In an entertaining match, both sides played for the win and created numerous chances. Mesut Özil, an early contender for player of the tournament, scored the crucial goal for Die Nationalmannschaft with a scintillating strike from just outside the penalty area.

Both teams, as they had displayed in their earlier games, played engaging, attacking football in the early stages. Both teams seemed eager to soak up pressure and unleash it back upon their opponents on the counterattack.

The best of the early opportunities came when Mesut Özil was played through on goal. The surging rush out by Richard Kingson smothered the Bremen midfielder’s shot before it could threaten his goal.

At the other end, Asamoah Gyan’s goalbound header was cleared off the line by German captain Philipp Lahm. Replays suggested that the Bayern München defender’s arm may have diverted the ball from it’s path but in any case it was accidental.

Tidy interplay between Thomas Müller and Sami Khedira allowed Cacau to get a volley away. Unfortunately for the Brazilian-born forward, his shot bounced into the arms of Richard Kingson in the Ghanian goal.

Ghana only needed a draw to progress but displayed plenty of vigorous intent in the first half but were unable to find a way past Manuel Neuer and his rigid defence.

The teams headed down the tunnel at the break with the scores somehow still locked at 0-0. Germany would need to be patient. They had looked menacing in the attacking third but had thus far been thwarted by a strong performance from the Mensahs, John and Jonathan as well as a much improved showing from Kingson.

The second half began with both teams showing the same offensive ambition. Asamoah was one-on-one with Neuer but failed to adequately control the bouncing ball and could only watch the Schalke 04 ‘keeper get his body in the way. The end to end marathon here was probably only bettered by the phenomenal duel at Wimbledon. Both sides taking turns to attack and break.

When it came, the breakthrough went Germany’s way. Philipp Lahm and Thomas Müller exchanged tentative short passes before Müller, with his back to goal, turned and progressed with the football into the penalty area. He spotted Mesut Özil on the edge of the 18-yard box and slipped a pass back to the Werder Bremen midfielder. The ball bobbled and sat up perfectly for Özil, who unleashed a blistering shot into the top corner. Kingson, who had until then been exemplary, could only watch.

The goal put Ghana in a precarious situation. A goal for Serbia in the match at Nelspruit would doom their hopes of becoming the only African team to qualify past the group stages. News of a goal did come soon after Özil’s strike. However, it was the Soccerroos and Tim Cahill that were celebrating.

With the lead secure and Ghana still posing an accomplished threat to their goal, Germany were content to control possession and the flow of the game. Terrific spells of passing were instigated by Sami Khedira and Bastian Schweinsteiger, whose transformation from pacy winger to a central-midfielder has been seamless. The importance of Schweinsteiger to Germany’s chances cannot be understated, which is why it was so worrying for German fans to see him limp from the field of play clutching at his thigh.

With Australia holding on to a 2-1 lead against Serbia, the game ended with both Germany and Ghana progressing. The results presented an accurate representation of the group. Ghana will now carry the hopes of the African continent as its sole representative in the knockout phase while Germany have reached the Second Round yet again.

England lie in wait for the Jogi Löw’s youthful squad. The German personnel will look at England’s performance today against Slovenia and have nothing to fear. It should make for an entertaining match. This talented German side will be boosted by the return of Miroslav Klose and could be on the verge of making an unexpected run into the latter part of this World Cup.

England qualify as runners up following defeat of Slovenia

England 1-0 Slovenia

England qualified for the Round of 16 with a 1-0 victory over Slovenia. However, the United States’ late goal against Algeria means that England finish as runners up and potentially face a difficult Second Round game against Germany in Bloemfontein.

England came into today’s game knowing that they needed to win to secure passage from a group which had been taken too lightly by England.

Both sides started edgily. There were some poor defensive clearances from Glen Johnson, Matthew Upson for England and Cesar for Slovenia.

England were looking very nervous in the opening minutes. John Terry’s backpass giving Matthew Upson a moment of distress.

Slovenia, despite the unprecedentedly high stakes, were the brighter side in the opening ten minutes. Valter Birsa, Slovenia’s standout performer in the tournament, embarked on a series of mazy runs into the England half while his teammates Jovanovic and Kirm were stringing passes together and causing problems for England’s fullbacks.

England eventually settled. Frank Lampard attempted a free-kick from all of 35 yards. The infamous Jabulani changed direction twice before being secured by Samir Handanovic.

Ljubijankic, of KAA Gent, had a great chance to heap further pressure on Fabio Capello’s unimpressive side but was denied by a terrific saving block by John Terry.

James Milner and Jermain Defoe had been brought into the starting line up by Fabio Capello in place of Aaron Lennon and Emile Heskey. The pair justified their selection by combining to give England the lead. Milner, who had been dropped by Fabio Capello for the 0-0 draw with Algeria, supplying the cross for Jermain Defoe who shinned the ball towards goal. Samir Handanovic had been performing superbly for Slovenia but was unable to keep Defoe’s volley out.

The goal seemed to settle England appeared to settle England’s fragile nerves. As it stood England would progress at the head of the Group C table with the Slovenians scraping through as runners up ahead of the United States who were being held 0-0 by Algeria.

Another cross nearly brought England’s second. Handanovic came a long way to palm the swinging pass away but his parry fell only as far as Frank Lampard. The Chelsea midfielder, who had failed to reproduce his club form for his national side, failed to hit the target.

England were keen to press their advantage. Jermain Defoe’s low shot from just outside the penalty area was blocked by Handanovic. Wayne Rooney collected the loose ball and sent a delicate pass across the penalty area for Steven Gerrard. The England captain was unable to convert, as the Udinese goalkeeper managed to keep the ball from crossing the line.

It appeared that Slovenia were finally succumbing to the pressure of the occassion. The quick passing and movement from their earlier games against Algeria and the United States had deserted them as they struggled to control possession. England continued to threaten towards the end of the half but were unable to add to their tally.

Jermain Defoe had a glorious opportunity to score his second goal within forty seconds of the start of the second half. A quickly taken corner fell to the Tottenham Hotspur striker, but Defoe was only able to flick the ball wide with the outside of his boot.

Despite a dramatic deterioration in their form, Slovenia were still posing a threat to England. A terrific inswinging free-kick from Birsa was fisted away by David James. The slightest touch from the flailing right foot of Jovanovic would surely have leveled the game.

Another good delivery from Birsa was caught by David James as Slovenia began to edge back into the match.

John Terry, whose feeble attempt at instigating a squad revolt against Fabio Capello was rebuked by the former Real Madrid manager, came close from a corner. The Chelsea captain thumped a challenging header at Samir Handanovic from Steven Gerrard’s corner.

Wayne Rooney had yet to impress at the World Cup and was discouragingly out of form again this afternoon. The Manchester United striker, with ample time and space, was one-on-one with Handanovic but his poor control and scuffed shot allowed the goalkeeper to glance his shot onto the post. Rooney was later replaced by fan favourite Joe Cole. England’s talisman trudged off the field looking very much like a player short of confidence and the requisite match fitness to excel at a World Cup.

After Rooney’s dismal failure in front of goal England reverted to the same poor football that had shrouded their displays against the United States and Algeria. Long punts up the field from David James were England’s predominant attacking threat from the sixtieth minute onwards.

Slovenia themselves were relatively unthreatening, each foray into England territory was halted by a wayward pass or a poor control. As the scoreboard in Port Elizabeth ticked towards the ninetieth minute, England seemed desperate to cling on to their lead. Emile Heskey was introduced with the sole purpose of reproducing his lumbering attack-quashing form in the defensive third.

Slovenia sent more crosses into the England penalty area but were denied by Matthew Upson and David James, England hung on to secure safe passage to the last sixteen. The players and coaching staff stormed the pitch where excited celebrations followed a n unimpressive victory over a mediocre opponent.

If England are to reach the final, as their optimistic manager predicts, they will need drastic improvement in terms of ball retention and passing speed. As England’s players huddled on the pitch, news filtered through from Pretoria that Landon Donovan had rescued the United States with a stoppage time winner. The goal has severe implications for England’s ambitions. The United States now progress as group winners with the Three Lions facing a monumental task in the Second Round, should Germany beat Ghana tonight.

Fabio Capello expressed his pride in his players’ performances after the final whistle and  about how his side played with ‘freedom’. The gushing of a certain gushing member of the British media referred to the win as being ‘more like the England we know.’ If this is the England we can expect in the knockout stages then the quest to end the forty-four year wait for World Cup glory will soon become forty-eight.

Dave Hanratty’s Winners & Losers – Day 7

In between offering dry observations on the World Cup and its Winners and Losers, our Dave spends his time drumming for upcoming band After The Explosions, to learn more please visit http://bit.ly/9TW5rL.

Winners

The viewers

As hoped, the second round of group matches has brought with them a palpable sense of excitement, with the Slovenia/USA match in particular arguably producing the best contest of the tournament thus far.

Algeria

Looking nothing like the team that were put to the sword by Ireland a few weeks ago, the Algerians played with ambition and conviction. Unfair critics will accuse them of packing ten behind the ball and suffocating England, but those critics will likely be bitter England fans. In truth, Algeria gave England a game and but for a decent striker things could have been even worse for Fabio Capello’s men.

Serbia

Rode their luck and won ugly, tearing Group D wide open in the process.

Nemanja Vidic

Following his recent escape in the Carling Cup final and today’s Superman impression to concede the penalty; does Vidic have some dirt on referees that keeps him from getting sent off?

Landon Donovan

Carried his team on his shoulders and deserves a better club than L.A. Galaxy. Let’s hope he returns to the Premier League soon.

Losers


England

Ouch. Perhaps the most worrying (and unsurprising) thing about England’s rotten brand of football is their inability to play together as a team. Make no mistake, this is a collection of selfish individuals determined to get their names on the scoresheet and photograph in the paper. By contrast, USA, who every English pundit will tell you are a far inferior team to England, rose above their perceived weaknesses in both their games so far, united as a team to overcome the obstacles that lay before them.

A great football team isn’t necessarily eleven world class players, but eleven men who can operate together in sync and fight for one another. On the basis of their World Cup campaign thus far, England are drowning in a sea of ego, poor tactics and curious team selections. They go into their final game against Slovenia next Wednesday needing to win (or draw depending on how things fare for USA) and should they produce a performance similar to their first three hours of this World Cup, they will be watching the second round from the comfort of their hotel rooms.

Fabio Capello

Not the birthday surprise he would have wanted.

Wayne Rooney

Dismal and anonymous, the “white Pele” stormed off the field mouthing “It’s nice to be booed by your own fans eh?” after the final whistle. While booing your own team is pretty ugly behaviour, the travelling fans will have spent an awful lot of money for the privilege of seeing their country woefully underperform and are perhaps entitled to vent their frustrations.

Alan Hansen

Made a big deal of sarcastically mocking the Slovenia/USA match before a ball was even kicked. Roy Hodgson dared to suggest it would be an entertaining game, cue Hansen and his childish bullshit. Of course, this being BBC, he wasn’t the only pundit to behave like a cretin…

Gary Lineker

“Message to watching Americans; that’s what makes football so special”. Way to take the shine off a great match by being a patronising wanker Gary.

Germany

Quite a contrast to their total football demolition of Australia on Sunday, the Germans suffered their first defeat at the group stages in the World Cup finals since losing to Denmark in 1986. Harshly reduced to ten men in the first half, Sami Khedira saw a goalbound effort cannon back off the crossbar and Lukas Podolski conspired to miss a penalty, rounding off a performance mired in such bad luck that even Mick McCarthy was moved to say that he almost felt sorry for them.

Kazuki Ito

A name that strikes fear into the heart of Pro Evolution Soccer 6 fans everywhere. Innocuous halfway-line challenges punished by straight red cards were par for the course when Kazuki took to the virtual field. In real life however, his legend is looking like it may be eclipsed in South Africa.

Referee Alberto Undiano Mallenco dished out no less than nine yellow cards including one red for the unfortunate Miroslav Klose in a game that was rarely ill-tempered. The Spanish referee has something of a card-happy reputation, having doled out an impressive 11 red cards in 17 La Liga games that he took charge of last seasion. Such a stat makes it all the more mind-boggling that Nemanja Vidic stayed on the pitch following his blatant handball. Speaking of dodgy refereeing decisions…

Koman Coulibaly

The Malian official somehow disallowed what would have been a winning goal for the Americans. The offence? Apparently by allowing themselves to be manhandled by the Slovenian defence they committed a foul. Poor show. See what you think…

Miroslav Klose

Even harsher than the red card Tim Cahill suffered when he lined up against Klose on Sunday.

Lukas Podolski

Having scored in the first game, Podolski was in prime position to further silence his critics when he stepped up to take a routine spot kick. Naturally his weak effort was saved.

Drawers

USA

And so USA continue to write their World Cup story in the manner in which they started. A terrible start followed by an impressive fightback to level things in a game that they could have won. Landon Donovan’s goal early in the second half was a stunning individual effort made all the more amusing by the sight of goalkeeper Samir Handanovic recoiling in terror as the ball rocketed towards his face.

Daddy’s boy Michael Bradley sealed an impressive comeback and but for the efforts of the referee, the Americans would have been in a much more comfortable position come the final whistle. As it stands, they still have a chance to progress, but there could be some last minute melodrama. Fitting.

Slovenia

A case can be made for them to reside in the Winners column despite the draw, but the reality is that following an unlikely lead, Slovenia threw away a glorious opportunity to seal qualification into the next round. They very well may progress but it’s now a much more difficult prospect than it could have been.