Writer: J P Fear
Date:Monday June 26 2006
England once again coughed and spluttered - and in David Beckham's case, puked - their way to another important win.
Despite rarely playing the free flowing and attacking football England are capable of during this World Cup, they have ground out results and have set themselves up for a quarter final place against either Holland or Portugal. Our opponents for next Saturday's quarter final will be decided tonight as the two nations clash at 8pm.
England enjoyed the lions share of possession today but Rooney was left isolated as both Lampard and Gerrard failed to get forward as much as hoped. If not for Joe Cole, who otherwise had a very average game, England could have been one down in the first half, but luckily - following a poor header from John Terry - Joe Cole managed to get back and put in a crucial touch to a goal bound shot with Paul Robinson left in no mans land.
Beckham settled the nerves on the hour with an inch perfect free kick. Hopefully that will give him a surge of confidence as his contributions in the tournament thus have at best been mixed. However, if England can keep playing like this all the way to the final, I don't think any of us will be complaining. That said, they will HAVE to raise their game as the next opponents (Holland or Portugal) will take some beating and the most obvious reward if we beat them will be to meet Brazil in the semis.
Funny thing is, England have just as much chance as anyone left in the competition, all they need now is the belief. Certainly Wayne Rooney grew as the game went on and even though he was only on for a few minutes, Spurs wonder kid Aaron Lennon also looked sharp.
Man of the match for me would be Michael Carrick, makes you wonder why he hasn't been played before. Oh, and the much maligned Owen Hargreaves also gave his all.
Now, we need a top contribution from Frank Lampard, one of the best midfielders in the world, as he has to date been quiet. IF they can find their touch and against the 'bigger' opponents our midfield should be able to raise their game, we could - just could, give our opponents something to worry about.
If not we will all get drunk, blame Sven and go back to talking about the weather. Ahhh, the life of an Englishman!
Date:Monday June 26 2006
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