OK with everybody and their mother having – and publishing – their opinion on the WC I don’t see why I shouldn’t join. So, living in England, let’s start off there.
The England team
My personal relation to the English football team is defined by the attitude of the press, punters and the average supporter; in every tournament I’ve witnessed so far England were world champions-by-divine-right before even a ball was kicked. This has made me root against them ever since. This time is barely different. Although the press is more realistic there is still a lot of boasting about the Amazingly Good Manager, the World Class Striker, the Divine Midfield… All crap.
England are a mediocre TEAM (emphasis mine) with a few world-class players; this hardly ever suffices to get far in a World Cup. They depend on one good striker, Rooney, to score prolific (and they admit this); the goalkeepers are substandard; with Rio Ferdinand gone they have one decent central defender left, Terry (who must be musing his reversal of fortunes); and the midfield looks good on paper but is quite lacking in control – where many teams nowadays play two holding midfielders, England plays without one for the moment; and their best holding midfield player, Barry, is out injured until later in the tournament. For no position, inluding Barry’s, do England have even an adequate replacement. Well maybe the wings, OK, I’ll admit that.
It is therefore little wonder, and it should be a sign, that England only beat Japan via two own goals, and scraped past Mexico whilst being thoroughly outplayed.
Unfortunately, England have such an easy draw that the QF are virtually a given. A group with the USA, Algeria and Slovenia is as easy as they come (despite Slovenia having knocked out Russia, something most of us would consider a lucky fluke) as these countries reside at 14th, 30th and 25th of the FIFA ranking respectively.
Should England win their group – and it would honestly be a disgrace if they didn’t – they will play the number two from a group that, apart from Germany, consists of a few unthreatening teams: Serbia, Australia and Ghana (FIFA ranked 15th, 20th and 32nd respectively). So the round of 16 should not be a major problem, either.
In the QF however I think that whatever team they meet, it will be stronger than England; the best team of Mexico/France/Uruguay/South Africa will have played the second best team of Argentina/Nigeria/South Korea/Greece. I do rate Mexico and France as stronger than England; Uruguay or Nigeria would be about even.
It still means that England need to play only one good game to make it to the semis, which if they do will unfortunately lead to the delusions of grandeur this country usually suffers from. God forbid they do.