International Friendlies Summary: E-J

6th June 2010 | World Cup Betting category: Football World Cup News
Football World Cup News

 

England

Pre-World Friendly Form: WW

England 3-1 Mexico
England 2-1 Japan

It’s been unconvincing from Fabio Capello’s England up till this point, although the fact they’ve nothced up back-to-back wins before the start of the finals without playing to their full potential has to be a big plus. England found themselves outplayed for the most part against Mexico at Wembley, but the Three Lions took their chances when they came in a clinical manner, whilst relying on some keeping heroics from Robert Green. Many were expecting England to push on from their reasonable opening victory by beating Japan comfortable in Austria. With Japan taking the lead after just six minute, it was patently obvious that another shaky England performance was on the cards, and so it prove to be the case. However, if their fortunate win over a competent Mexico was an indication that the footballing Gods were looking over Capello’s men, their fortuitous turnaround against the Japanese was, with two second half own goals enough to seal a second quick-fire international win.

Without watching either game, you could be forgiven for thinking England head into South Africa with form. Their performances, though, have ranged from lacklustre and lethargic to adequate, with England never getting past 3rd gear in either. One way you could look at it, surely their display can only get better. But there were plenty of mistakes and flaws that their World Cup opponents will look to capitalize on.

The big news, however, was that defensive rock and captain Rio Ferdinand would miss the finals after suffering ligament damage in his knee during training.  As a result, Michael Dawson was recalled and it now leaves Fabio Capello pondering over whether to start with Jamie Carragher or Ledley King in Ferdinand centre-half void. It would appear some of the momentum and confidence gained from two successive friendly wins has now been lost, at such a crucial time as well.

 

France

Pre-World Friendly Form: LDW

France 2-1 Costa Rica
Tunisia 1-1 France
China 1-0 France

As per usual, France will arrive in South Africa for the 2010 FIFA World Cup with little in terms of positive aurora and some winning momentum. Their early victory over Costa Rica, one which was largely undeserved, came when Valbuena scored late on to seal an almost trademark style France win. It was a shaky display all-round from Domenech’s men, with their persistence eventually seeing them run through the finish line first. However, instead of building upon their jammy win, France went in the other direction when drawing 1-1 in Tunisia. It was yet another worrying display from the French team, conceding another early goal before the predictable comeback. This time however, there wasn’t to be a winning finale.

Last and certainly not least, France completed and unwanted set of results, tasting every after-match feeling when losing to China, a team ranked 84 in the FIFA Rankings, thus ensuring the France squad tasted one of each during their World Cup preparations: 1 win, 1 draw and 1 defeat. It was a match France were very much in control in, but a distinct lack of cutting edge aided by some bad luck meant France would arrive in South Africa with an embarrassing loss hanging over them.

 

Germany

Pre-World Friendly Form: WW

Hungary 0-3 Germany
Germany 3-1 Bosnia & Herzegovina

News that Germany’s influential captain, Michael Ballack, would miss the finals through an ankle injury really did rock the camp and seen the country’s chances of lifting the FIFA World Cup aloft in South Africa decrease significantly as a direct result. If the German squad was reeling over the loss of their captain they weren’t showing it, as in their first warm up game they thrashed an ever-improving Hungary 3-0. The win came in impressive fashion, both in regards to the scoreline and their performance, and it may well have punters re-evaluating Germany’s chances.

Despite a shaky start to their final warm up game against a tricky Bosnia & Herzegovina, Germany ran out comfortable winners and finished the game with style and in an impressive fashion when winning 3-1 thanks to second half strikes from captain Phillip Lahm and Bastien Schweinstieger. The latter’s brace came via the penalty spot although both were put away with aplomb in the absence of Michael Ballack. It was a case of two halfs, with Germany a tad one-paced in the opening 45 minutes but completely dominant in the second, pinning Bosnia back for the entire length of the second period, with two second-half substitutes in particular impressive for Germany in Marko Marin and Cacua.

 

Ghana

Pre-World Friendly Form: WL

Holland 4-1 Ghana
Ghana 1-0 Latvia

‘The Black Stars’ were given a Dutch spanking in their opening warm up encounter ahead of the finals in Rotterdam, Gyan grabbed Ghana’s one and only goal of the game in a heavy 4-1 defeat. Coach Milovan Rajevac received crushing news when combative midfielder Michael Essien was ruled out of the finals, and Essien’s absence against Holland, a team with real quality, was evident. There were gaping gaps in the centre of the park, they struggled to retain possession and there was a distinct lack of presence and leadership. It was certainly a worrying display from Ghana, and from an African nation where some were touting as serious players this summer, one of the better African nations to challenge for the title itself. Perhaps that is no longer the case without their talisman.

Ghana left it late in their final international before the World Cup, narrowly recording a win over European’s Latvia via a strike from Quincey Owusu-Abeyie in the 88th minute. While not entirely convincing, the win did at least restore some confidence and self-belief that might have been lost following their Holland drubbing days earlier.

 

Greece

Pre-World Friendly Form:

Greece 2-2 North Korea
Greece 0-2 Paraguay

Led by one of the most respected managers on the international scene, Otto Rehhagel, Greece will have it all to do in South Africa if their display against Korea DPR and Paraguay are anything to go on. Greece were strong favourites to win their opening friendly, a game against the largely unknown North Koreans. When Greece scored just minutes into the game everyone assumed a rout was on the cards, but stunning equaliser sparked the Asian’s into life and thereafter Greece struggled to keep up with their energetic opponents. Rehhagel’s men were actually losing at one stage and had to dig deep just to pick up a draw and save face. The weren’t so lucky against Paraguay though, with another lacklustre performance by the Greek’s enabling the South American’s to stroll towards victory. Sloppy at the back, a severe lack of creativity and guile in the midfield and a couple of forlorn strikers are what Greece have shown us all so far.

 

Honduras

Pre-World Friendly Form: LDD

Belarus 2-2 Honduras
Azerbaijan 0-0 Honduras
Romania 3-0 Honduras

The Hondurans were a surprise inclusion into this years event and needed a big helping hand from the United States in order to qualify. After that slice of good fortune, Honduras will feel the God’s have blessed them with this golden opportunity and that they must now seize their opportunity. Two draws against less than average opponents haven’t helped their cause nor has it boosted the confidence of the players. Their first came against Belarus, who in fairness do play some decent football. The second stalemate came against Azerbaijan in what can only be described as a shocker of a result as far as Honduras are concerned. Reinauldo Reuda’s men face the likes of Spain and Chile in Group H at South Africa, and if they can’t put Azerbaijan to bed then what chance do they have against nations with genuine quality.

As if a run of two consecutive draws against teams deemed as minnows within their respective zones, Honduras succumbed to defeat in their final game before facing Chile on June 16th by a Romanian side which failed to perform throughout qualifying for South Africa. To make matters worse, combative midfielder Wilson Palacios was stretched off and remains a doubt for South Africa.

 

Italy

Pre-World Friendly Form: DL

Mexico 2-1 Italy
Switzerland 1-1 Italy

The defending champions have been hugely disappointing during their preparations for South Africa, with a defeat to Mexico followed by an uninspiring 1-1 draw with Switzerland lamenting the concerns of a country eager to defend their title. In both encounters, Marcello Lippi fielded a strong team and the fact that one of the favourites to win this years edition can’t beat two of the outsiders, with Switzerland in particular almost completely ruled out of the outright equation, it does make you think that Italy might not even put up a fight for their crown in South Africa. The Italians are obviously frustrated with their preparations as in both encounters they received several yellow cards. Concerning to say the least for the usual consistent Italians.

 

Japan

Pre-World Friendly Form: LLL

Japan 0-2 South Korea
England 2-1 Japan
Japan 0- Ivory Coast

Japan’s World Cup preparations have been tortuous to say the least, with Takeshi Okada, the Japan coach which targeted a semi-final appearance in South Africa, having to watch on as Japan record two quick defeats. The first loss was the more damaging as it came against one of their fiercest Asian rivals in a 2-0 defeat by South Korea. To add insult to injury, and to increase the tension and pressure already rapidly building on the Japan camp, the defeat came on home soil in front of their hostile fans.

Their second came in Austria when they took on one of the competition favourites, England. Japan were big odds to spring an upset before kick-off, and with 6 minutes gone and Japan 1-0 up through defender Tulio, a huge turn up for the books was well and truly on. However, while their English opponents at the time were enjoying some good fortune of late, Japan weren’t and their bad luck was compounded with two second half own goals, resulting in a 2-1 defeat for Japan. The positive, however, was firstly Japan taking the lead and maintaining their advantage for over an hour of play, while the second being the fact they more than held their own in the first hour or so, thus proving in a way that Okada’s bold South Africa objective is at least achievable even if it’s extremely unlikely.

In Japan’s third and final international before the do battle in Group E, the Japanese, after previously putting in a valiant display against England, somewhat rolled over against the Ivory Coast. A 2-0 loss to one of the more fancied African nations competing in this month’s finals left Japan with a hat-trick of defeats ahead of a tournament the coach expects to reach the semi-finals. At this rate they’ll be lucky to avoid the wooden spoon in their group.



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