World Cup 2010 Preview Group C: Round Pegs for 2 Square Holes

03 June 2010

Being an American, I've spent way too much time analyzing and over analyzing Group C. With England, Algeria, and Slovenia joining the Americans, the main questions I have are: what American side shows up for each of the three games, and can Algeria keep their discipline throughout the group stage?

The United States maybe the most Jeckyl and Hyde team of the thirty-two in the World Cup. When everything is hitting on all cylinders, they are a tough team to break down and a team that can find goals. However, when just one piece to their puzzle is not aligned, they are in serious trouble. The shape of the midfield concedes too much space, and when passes are misplaced there, can easily be countered. Right now, both defensive backs can be easily beaten, and I wouldn't be shocked if Carlos Bocanegra is called to relieve some of that pressure on the left side. The midfield should be the strongest part of the team, with Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan on the wings with a central midfield that can have any combination of Michael Bradley, Ricardo Clark, Benny Feilhaber and Jose Francisco Torres. Up front is where the Americans can be considered the weakest.
While Jozy Altidore has scored on the international level, the rest of the forwards have a combined seven caps. Hercluez Gomez is a great second half option, but I don't see him as a 90 minute man. Robbie Findley was a shock add to the team, and I don't see him playing more than a combined 30 minutes during the group stage. He's an okay option for pace late in a match, but that's it. As for Edson Buddle, there's a vast difference between scoring goals in MLS and in the World Cup.
In order for the United States to be successful, the midfield has to have better control of the ball, and Michael Bradley has to stay on the park. Dempsey needs to not be afraid of shooting and Donovan has to be involved the entire time without giving the appearance he has checked out of games. But above all, the defense has to keep its shape and not be exposed on the wings as they were in their send off tour. Is it possible? Yes it is. Is it likely? That's something I'm not willing to bet on.

As for the rest of the group:

While England aren't as invincible as people want to think, as long as Wayne Rooney is on form, England will be just fine. It's going to be interesting which parings are used at center back, as both Rio Ferdinand and John Terry haven't been on great form over the last six months. Also, it will be interesting to see what Aaron Lennon can do on the right side of the park. Overall, they will not have it easy in the group stage, but I see them winning all three group games.

Algeria may not have many big names, but what they do have are enough guys who fly under the radar in the leagues they play in. However, they have not played well since the end of the African Cup of Nations. With their discipline record lacking, they could very well be in a position where they can't attack as they would like to. While they are not exactly an organized unit, they are a team that can find ways to get points. I don't rate their chances highly against teams that show more organization than them; however they won't go down without three hard fought games.

Slovenia have not looked all that good of late, despite closing their World Cup qualification strongly. Their strength is their ability to counter attack; with the United States and Algeria as two of their opponents, they should have no problem doing so. Their biggest problem is finishing their chances, regardless of how they come about. The biggest question to me is their defensive strength. When things break down, they do not organize themselves quickly. What they have to do is keep their confidence, something they have a hard time doing when the game isn't going their way.

When it's all said and done, I see England winning the group on 9 points. As for the race for second place, I have Slovenia just pipping the United States on goal difference at 4 points a piece as I see Slovenia beating Algeria by a bigger score than the US will. On zero points, I have Algeria 4th.

What are your thoughts on Group C? Let us know in the comments below.


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Johnathan Starling, the self proclaimed 'most brutally honest man on the net, dishes out his own unique brand of opinions, and analysis on the Premier League, Bundesliga, and all things US Soccer.

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