Friday, June 4, 2010

Grupo C

Continuing the World Cup breakdown with a look at Group C:

United States

The marquee match in this World Cup group, and possibly the whole tournament, is USA v. England next Saturday (06/12/2010) at 10:30AM PDT on ABC (check local listings). It's probably not a huge deal in the scope of the tournament, since both countries should advance if they take care of business against minnows Algeria and Slovenia, but should still be a big deal on both sides of the Atlantic.

First things first. I'm a big-time Anglophile when it comes to music or books or TV shows or even liking this sport that the rest of the world calls "football", but that does not extend into being a fan of England's national team in that sport.

The English seem to base a large part of their national identity on their performance in international tournaments, translating into a Rule Britannia jingoism that rubs me the wrong way. I was in the UK in 2007 when England failed to qualify for Euro 2008, and the British public and media were convinced that the sun had finally set their Empire.

After that failure, England fired their manager, hired a new one, and focused on the 2010 World Cup, breezing through qualifying with just one loss. They come into this World Cup flowing with confidence and high expectations, even though they haven't won an major international competition in 44 years, since their 1966 World Cup victory. And they've never beaten the USA in the World Cup (all-time record 0-0-1, remember 1950!).

On the other hand, Nate Silver ranks England as the 3rd best team in the world (behind Brazil and Spain) and the U.S. as the 15th (which is probably inflated since CONCACAF is such a weak region), so it would be a pretty big deal if Our Boys could pull out a win or even a draw. Maybe not as big as the "Miracle On Ice", but at least as big that 1950 game or last year's Confederation Cup win over Spain.

It would be a major embarrassment for England if We pull this out, and their schaden will give me lots of freude, but if we don't then whateverdude, just beat Algeria and Slovenia to make it to the knockouts. Some Americans might find it hard to cheer against the English since we were allies in two World Wars (as well as this War On Terror thing) and we're almost the same country, but with a certain "British" oil company pumping gallons of crude into the Gulf over the past six weeks, maybe it's time to break out some Johnny Horton records.

The two other teams in Group C, Slovenia and Algeria, appear to be overmatched in this group, so if either team makes it through, it means that either England or (more likely) the US laid a major egg. And Slovenia qualified from Europe, so they might not be as bad as people think.

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