England v Slovenia Preview: Tips & Betting Odds – Wednesday, 23rd June (Group C)
England v Slovenia Betting Odds
England coach Fabio Capello has apparently already made the decision of who will partner John Terry at the heart of England’s defence for their crucial final match of Group C. With Ledley King injured and Jamie Carragher suspended, West Ham’s Matthew Upson will get his chance to step up to the plate. Upson was called upon plenty of times during England’s qualification campaign, and it was to some surprise that Capello picked King and Carragher ahead of him. Without ever really shining, Upson is a steady defender, and may provide just a little more pace at the back than either King or Carragher could. While this change was forced upon the England boss, there are more changes brewing though apparently, with Capello saying that he will probably change others. The most likely other change would striker Emile Heskey dropping out of the starting eleven, as England need to go in search of goals. The last time England failed at the group stage of a World Cup, was in 1958.
England simply need to win against Slovenia in order to progress to the second round as expected. They were tipped to win the group from the off, and they can still do, but it was all supposed to be a lot easier than they have made it. England have struggled through two drawn matches, which may not prove to be too much of a disaster, but they have looked very slow with their running, passing and general movement. Whether it all down to the pressure and weight of expectation, but something needs to give. Even England’s talisman Wayne Rooney has looked below his best, but then the supply to him from midfield has been extremely poor. Fabio Capello held an opening meeting with his players after the dire performance against Algeria, giving everyone a chance to air their views. There have been rumours about the players not enjoying the Capello system, but that is hard to buy into after it is the same system which served them so successfully through qualification.
England look a shadow of the team they were during European qualification, and it is hard to put a question on why. Maybe over confidence. Maybe the pressure. Maybe they have underestimated the competition, and now they have had their wake up calls, things should be addressed in a professional manner. England fans want more, and now the players and the coach have to deliver as there will be no more chances for them. The life of an England manager is not an easy one, and now there are worries that Capello may quit his role if England do not make it to the last sixteen of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. But Capello has been honest in his assessment of his team, saying that he doesn’t understand why the players are unable to change tempo and get themselves motivated. It is hard to see Capello as a quitter, and regardless of what happens against Slovenia, it will be in England’s best interest to hold onto him. The performances are not completely his failings. It is basically the same group of players which have let England down so poorly before at tournament, like in Germany 2006, where they also looked uninspired.
Will Capello use Steven Gerrard in an attacking midfield role? That is the one area in which Capello has been criticised most, not using Gerrard to his full potential. Will he play Rooney as a lone striker, a role in which he relishes? This would pile responsibility on the Manchester United striker to grab games by the scruff of the neck, and could be the way to get him to respond. Will Capello then use the creativity of Joe Cole from the left? Something has to give, another turgid 4-4-2 display from England may not suffice. The passion has to be stepped up. The pride has to be stepped up. The drive, determination and the pace at which they play needs to be stepped up. Remember at Italia ‘90, England were in the same position in their group, having drawn their opening two matches. Coach Bobby Robson then made some changes for their final group match, beating Egypt to qualify. England reach the World Cup semi finals that year. So all hope is not lost for England and Capello. Can all of them rise to the occasion?
England World Cup 2010 Stats
Played: W0, D2, L0
Cards: Y4, R0
Most Shots: Frank Lampard, 8
Top Scorer: Steven Gerrard, 1
Shots/On Goal: 33/14
Fouls Committed: 25
Total Passes: 1093
Pass Completion: 73%
If it is to some surprise that they have a healthy amount of points on the board, then it should not be. They were never going to be pushovers in the group, and were a good bet to steal second place behind England. They actually now have the chance to go one better than that, and win the group with a win over Fabio Capello’s side. While that would mean the unthinkable for England, for Slovenia it would be an immense success story. The European minnows have a good crop of players, and, as shown in the first half of their match against the USA, they were able to string together some quick passing and counter attack at pace. Pace is the one thing which England have lacked, and will have to be careful of the threat Slovenia pose in that department. Slovenia will also have two bustling, battling tough forwards in Milivoje Novakovic and Zlatan Ljubijankic, for Terry and Upson to try and contend with, and Slovenia, who beat Russia and Slovakia along the way in qualifying for the World Cup, will fancy their chances. They will have seen England struggle for momentum, and while the Slovenians fell apart in the second half of the match against the USA, they battled hard and still looked a threat on the break. Slovenia actually have a solid defence, which was stood up very well in their qualification campaign. England will have to show a lot more conviction and invention to break them down.
Slovenia top the group going into the final round of matches, and a draw would be sufficient for them to progress through. That makes England’s task even harder, as the Slovenians know that they can sit back and rely on the control that Birsa and Koren give them. A draw may suffice for England, but that would leave their fate in the hands of Algeria, who they would need to beat the USA for Capello’s men to progress in that situation. Even in this situation with Slovenia holding the slight advantage, there is belief in World Cup betting that England, who have the superior quality, will pull through. For Slovenia to stop that happening, they will need to play to their strengths. They work hard as a team, and can stroke the ball around when not under pressure. It is the pressure and tempo which England need, as they will have seen Slovenia crack under the high tempo game the USA played in the second half. All to play for, but have England left it too late?
Slovenia World Cup 2010 Stats
Played: W1, D1, L0
Cards: Y6, R0
Most Shots: Valter Birsa, Robert Koren, 4
Top Scorer: Three players, 1
Shots/On Goal: 14/8
Fouls Committed: 25
Total Passes: 944
Pass Completion: 71%
Asian Handicap Betting Tip: England have to score, and you have to back them to do it. With the pressure on and the need to respond, you should see England as more of an attacking force, especially if Capello is going to be brave and shake things up. Experience in these types of situation is vital, and that’s where England could be much stronger.
England -1.25 for 6/5 at Paddy Power
Current England V Slovenia Odds: