Group C begins with the team responsible for creating the beautiful game, and they’re looking to show their pride by bringing the Cup back to where it belongs.
Team: The Tree Lions
Colors: White and red
Compare the English National Team to a U.S. sports city; England is the Cleveland of the world. On paper, the team is easily one of the favorites to win, yet for some reason they always choke in the big game.
The Three Lions, arguably the most physical team headed to South Africa, is determined to overcome past experiences that have been haunting the country since 1986 (The Hand of God from Diego Maradona). They’ll rely on their strong defense and powerful midfield to control the tempo of the game and open up the attack for Wayne Rooney, one of the world’s deadliest strikers.
Besides goaltending quality, the only question mark is how well the team of superstars will unite, because players are part of rival clubs. Working together is critical for their success in the World Cup. Is this the year England reclaims what’s rightfully theirs? Or, will we see another performance that leaves English fans saying, “We’ll be better in four years.”?
Key Players: Wayne Rooney, Steven Gerrard and Rio Ferdinand
Rio Ferdinand has the job of controlling the defensive wall and not allowing a lot of shots on their aging goalkeeper, David James. As captain, he must dictate the defense with unmatched strength and power over opponents.
The link between England’s strong D and its high-octane offense is forged in the gifted right foot of arguably the best all-around footballer in the world, Steven Gerrard. Tackling, passing, striking—he does it all. If his form is on and manager Fabio Capello allows him to roam up front, the English squad may have a fighting chance to win it all.
The question on every England supporter’s mind is whether Wayne Rooney can translate the success he has had with Manchester United onto the World Cup pitch. As long as he keeps his temper in check and focuses on scoring goals, this top English striker will be pure chaos to opposing defense and keepers.
Key Matchup: England vs. USA
The Revolutionary War: part two. The game is the opening match for England and the U.S. Both teams know each other extremely well, and as of late, the English have disposed of the Yanks rather quickly. Look for a lot of hard-hitting tackles and possible yellow cards when this old rivalry heats up on June 12. Both teams have a lot to prove and are looking to take it out on one another.
If egos stay in check, the Three Lions will roar their way to the finals. Expect a typical slip up resulting in the team making it only as far as the semi-finals.
Related link: World Cup 2010 Countdown