Three Lions Fail To Roar In Pre-WC Warm-up…

With England in scintillating form leading up to the World Cup and dominating their group, a group that included rivals Croatia, then surely playing Mexico and Japan as their World Cup Warm up matches would be purely a chance for the likes of Joe Hart, Leighton Baines and a few others to try to bully their way into the squad.

180 minutes of football later and two depressing matches by the Three Lions and Fabio Capello will have his hands full convincing the English public that we won’t be pulling a France and dropping out in the group stage. The homeland of football has always piled the pressure on their national team, a team that has consistently underperformed since they crushed the Germans in the 1966 World Cup.

The new millennium has been a lesson in humility for the proud nation, and after being knocked out in back-to-back tournaments by Portugal and then failing to even make the 2008 European Championship, it is safe to say that the pressure upon this year’s squad traveling to South Africa is immense.

Here’s a breakdown of the last few weeks of action:

England 3 – 1 Mexico – Leading up to the match the England team was feeling bullish, by the end of the match they were humbled. The scoreline was more than generous to England and if not for some fantastic saves by both Robert Green and Joe Hart, the Three Lions would have been leaving Wembley with egg on their face. The only thing that England learned from this encounter is that they are a long way away from the form they need to the finals in South Africa. We must keep in mind that the team was missing first choice keeper David James and the three Chelsea players in the squad; Frank Lampard, John Terry and Ashley Cole. That being said, Crouch showed why he should be included and Ledley King showed why he’s one of my favourite defenders in the game, returning after a 3 year absence from the National side.

Man Of The Match: Wayne Rooney, he may not have found the back of the net but he played hard and didn’t hurt himself, that in itself is worth MoM.

England 2 – 1 Japan – If we learned anything from the almost-upset by Mexico, well, it sure didn’t show in the game against Japan. The backline looked disorganized, the midfield was sloppy and the striking was beyond atrocious. Japan took the lead early, much like Mexico did, and showed flashes of brilliance with Brazilian born Marcus Tulio Tanaka causing chaos in the England end. The best players for England proved to be Japanese, as they scored two own goals to save England from embarrassment just a fortnight before the World Cup starts. Only positive in this one was the fact Emile Heskey played so badly that Fabio Capello may end his love affair with the Aston Villa striker and HOPEFULLY leave him on the tarmac as the plane takes off for Rustenburg.

Man Of The Match: Emile Heskey played himself out of the England squad with some woeful misses and terrible play, and for that I am thankful, I couldn’t handle watching him lose us the World Cup.

Other Thoughts…

  • Fabio Capello says he has settled on his final squad and if it were my choice; Heskey, Carrick, Warnock, Dawson, Upson, Parker and Wright-Phillips will be dropped from the squad…
  • A partnership of Rooney with Gerrard tucked in behind will work best for England, just wish the 4-5-1 had been deployed months ago…
  • Frank Lampard missed a penalty shot against Japan and lets hope that its the last one for another few years he misses…
  • Man City midfielder Adam Johnson looked great in both warm-up matches and should provide some much needed offensive creativity, something England squads are often criticised for lacking…
  • Speaking of offensive creativity, Joe Cole seemed to play himself into a spot in the final 23 with his strong outing against Japan…

Well, that’s it for now but starting June 5th, I will be previewing the rest of the teams in England’s group as well as breaking down the final England squad when Capello names it on Tuesday.

Henry Whitfield is an avid sports fan who covers everything and anything in the sports world, while focusing on hockey and football. Follow him on twitter @HenryWhitfield.


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