England v Egypt: Gerrard leads as Capello looks for answers

2nd March 2010 | World Cup Betting category: World Cup Previews & Predictions
World Cup Previews & Predictions

England’s World Cup preparations take their first step of 2010 on Wednesday night, in the England v Egypt fixture at Wembley. Some of the attention has been taken away from the action on the pitch by all of the media fuss over John Terry, who was stripped of the captaincy by boss Fabio Capello. The armband was going to be passed on to Manchester United’s Rio Ferdinand, but his stop/start season continues as he is out of action with a back problem, which sees Liverpool’s Steven Gerrard take over as captain for the friendly. There have now been calls from both Wayne Rooney and Fabio Capello for the fans to be kind to John Terry at this important time, as fans will remember the booing of Frank Lampard when he was in the headlines for the wrong reasons.

The last thing that England needs is disruption, but that is what they have on their hands. This will be a good test of Capello’s management, who is known for being a disciplinarian. The Italian will need to re-unite the players in the England camp, as full back Wayne Bridge has already refused to play because of John Terry. How much tension and unease will there be in the dressing room? How will the fans react to Terry? After a strong qualification campaign, there appear to be a few cracks appearing in the England set up, with injuries causing disruption, as well as a lack of form. Any slip up now, even in friendlies, could cause further problems for Capello, and Egypt really could provide a stern test for his side.

Possible problematic areas for England can be seen all over the pitch:

Goalkeeping. England will go to the World Cup without a world class goalkeeper. Capello has chosen David James, Rob Green and Joe Hart for Egypt friendly, but this still remains England’s weakest area.

Defence: Will Ashley Cole be fit? That is the big questions in the England defence. The left back is a world class act, and England don’t have his kind of quality in back up. The centre of defence could also raise some eyebrows, especially if Rio Ferdinand doesn’t make it, and John Terry’s form in light of all the speculations about his private life, has dipped dramatically. Will Terry’s focus be fully on the game? Favoured right back Glen Johnson can be a threat going forward, but is seen as a liability in defence.

Midfield: Steven Gerrard is having probably his poorest, most anonymous season that one can remember, and the goals from Frank Lampard seem to have dried up a little bit this season for his club. Who will get the call on the left side of midfield still remains in question, with Joe Cole not being selected for the Egypt friendly. If Aaron Lennon doesn’t make it on the right wing, will Shaun Wright-Phillips and David Beckham be able to pose the same kind of attacking threat?

Forwards: Thankfully Rooney is one of the best strikers in the world and England need him fit and firing. The question marks will be over the potency of a strike partner, and what will happen if anything happens to keep Rooney out of action at the World Cup.

These are issues only one man will have the power to address. The nations hopes rest on the shoulders of Fabio Capello. One of the favourites to lift the World Cup, England should be tested by a dangerous side in Egypt, who fell short of qualifying for the tournament in South Africa by one game. Algeria beat Egypt in a play-off to reach the World Cup, but as shown at the recent African Cup of Nations, where Egypt punished their bitter rivals heavily with a 4-0 win, they are not to be taken lightly. During the African Cup of Nations, Egypt looked strong, fluent and creative on the pitch, and looked as if they would have a better chance of creating upsets at the World Cup than Algeria, who landed themselves in England’s group.

This is the first test of 2010, with just two more friendly matches to follow against Mexico and Japan in May. Time is running out for players to earn their World Cup squad places, and hopefully the injuries which England have at the moment, have come early enough for Capello to seriously weigh up alternative options. The spotlight in this area will be on the left back position, which is likely to come down to Everton’s Leighton Baines, or Aston Villa’s Stephen Warnock. While Capello has James Milner in the squad who play there, the Villa man has been impressive in his attacking role, where he has potential to make a huge impact for England in South Africa.

England vs. Egypt Outright Betting

England to win: 2/5 at Expekt
Draw: 4/1 at SkyBet
Egypt to win: 8/1 at Bet365

 




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