Belfast Telegraph

Friday 26 December 2014

Capello learns valuable lessons about his England side in uninspiring draw with US

Robert Green of England misjudges the ball and lets in a goal during the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Group C match between England and USA at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium on June 12, 2010
Robert Green of England misjudges the ball and lets in a goal during the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Group C match between England and USA at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium on June 12, 2010
Robert Green of England misjudges the ball and lets in a goal during the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Group C match between England and USA at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium on June 12, 2010 in Rustenburg, South Africa
England goalkeeper Robert Green
Robert Green of England calls to his team mates during the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Group C match between England and USA
The World Cup Fans Gallery 2010- English fans lap up the atmosphere.
World Cup fans. June 2010
World Cup fans. June 2010
World Cup fans. June 2010
World Cup fans. June 2010
World Cup fans. June 2010
World Cup fans. June 2010
World Cup fans. June 2010
World Cup fans. June 2010
World Cup fans. June 2010
World Cup fans. June 2010
World Cup fans. June 2010
World Cup fans. June 2010
World Cup fans. June 2010
World Cup fans. June 2010
World Cup fans. June 2010
World Cup fans. June 2010
World Cup fans. June 2010
World Cup fans. June 2010
World Cup fans. June 2010
World Cup fans. June 2010
World Cup fans. June 2010
World Cup fans. June 2010
World Cup fans. June 2010
World Cup fans. June 2010
World Cup fans. June 2010
World Cup fans. June 2010
World Cup fans. June 2010
World Cup fans. June 2010
World Cup fans. June 2010
World Cup fans. June 2010
World Cup fans. June 2010
A Mexican fan shows her support in Tambo Airport as fans begin to arrive ahead of the World Cup
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - JUNE 08: A Portuguese fan cheers for their team before their international friendly match against Mozambique at Wanderers Stadium on June 8, 2010 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
MORULENG, SOUTH AFRICA - JUNE 07: A fan waves flags outside the stadium before the England v Platinum Stars Friendly match at the Moruleng Stadium on June 7, 2010 in Moruleng, South Africa. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
An african fan is pictured prior to training session at Super stadium
RUSTENBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - JUNE 08: Steven Gerrard shares a joke with Matthew Upson during the England training session at the Royal Bafokeng Sports Campus on June 8, 2010 in Rustenburg, South Africa. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - JUNE 08: A woman blows a Vuvuzela in central Cape Town on June 8, 2010 in Cape Town, South Africa. The first World Cup ever held in Africa is due to begin in less than a week and the Vuvuzela has been causing controversy with some calling for the instrument to be banned. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - JUNE 08: Fans of Portugal cheer on their team before the international friendly match against Mozambique at Wanderers Stadium on June 8, 2010 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - JUNE 08: A fan of Portugal wears a hat for the international friendly match against Mozambique at Wanderers Stadium on June 8, 2010 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - JUNE 08: A young fan of Portugal gets her face painted before the international friendly match against Mozambique during their game at Wanderers Stadium on June 8, 2010 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - JUNE 08: A woman blows a Vuvuzela in central Cape Town on June 8, 2010 in Cape Town, South Africa. The first World Cup ever held in Africa is due to begin in less than a week and the Vuvuzela has been causing controversy with some calling for the instrument to be banned. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - JUNE 08: Vuvuzelas are displayed on a market stall in central Cape Town on June 8, 2010 in Cape Town, South Africa. The first World Cup ever held in Africa is due to begin in less than a week and the Vuvuzela has been causing controversy with some calling for the instrument to be banned. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
MORULENG, SOUTH AFRICA - JUNE 07: Fans look on from the stands during the England v Platinum Stars Friendly match at the Moruleng Stadium on June 7, 2010 in Moruleng, South Africa. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - JUNE 08: A Portuguese fan cheers for their team before their international friendly match against Mozambique at Wanderers Stadium on June 8, 2010 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - JUNE 08: A Portuguese fan cheers for their team before their international friendly match against Mozambique at Wanderers Stadium on June 8, 2010 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - JUNE 08: A Portuguese fan cheers for their team before their international friendly match against Mozambique at Wanderers Stadium on June 8, 2010 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
World Cup fans. June 2010
CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - JUNE 08: Football merchandise is displayed on a market stall on June 8, 2010 in Cape Town, South Africa. The first World Cup ever held in Africa is due to begin in less than a week and South Africans are celebrating in festivals across the country. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - JUNE 08: Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal smiles as he warms up before the friendly match between Portugal and Mozambique at Wanderers Stadium on June 8, 2010 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA - JUNE 08: Argentina's head coach Diego Maradona gives instructions during a team training session on June 8, 2010 in Pretoria, South Africa. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)
CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - JUNE 08: A man blows a Vuvuzela in central Cape Town on June 8, 2010 in Cape Town, South Africa. The first World Cup ever held in Africa is due to begin in less than a week and the Vuvuzela has been causing controversy with some calling for the instrument to be banned. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
MORULENG, SOUTH AFRICA - JUNE 07: A fan holds up a Number 10 football shirt emblazoned with 'Mrs Rooney' during the friendly match between England and Platinum Stars at the Moruleng Stadium on June 7, 2010 in Moruleng, South Africa. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
RUSTENBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - JUNE 07: Wayne Rooney of England reacts during the friendly match between England and Platinum Stars at the Moruleng Stadium on June 7, 2010 in Moruleng, South Africa. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
Argentina's soccer team coach Diego Maradona gestures during a practice session in Pretoria, South Africa, Tuesday, June 8, 2010
The 'Jabulani' football, the official ball of the FIFA World Cup 2010 in South Africa, being tested in a wind tunnel
An England and France flag in Iris mews, west Belfast
Twins Michael (Italy) and Aaron O'Neill (Brazil) with Robert Robinson (right) and Odhran Dunne play football in Iris Mews surrounded by the flags of all 32 competing nations
Miroslav Klose
Germany are one of the most consistent teams in tournament football, so don't be surprised to see them hanging around at the semi-final stage. If they do make it that far, it's likely that Bayern Munich striker Miroslav Klose will have been on the score sheet a few times. He scored seven goals during Germany's qualification process and as the winner of the award at the last World Cup, could become the first ever player to retain the award.
Cristiano Ronaldo
English football fans will be well aware of the Portuguese's prowess in front of goal, and his move to Real Madrid hasn't diminished it in the slightest. He scored 33 goals in 35 appearances in his first season at the Bernabeu. He's never quite transformed his club form to international level but if Portugal progress from the 'group of death' it'll probably be because of Ronaldo.
Luis Fabiano
Another player who will need to be firing if his team are to progress from the 'group of death' will be Luis Fabiano. Brazil's star striker would normally hail from one of the greatest clubs on the planet, but not Fabiano. The 29-year-old plays for the unglamorous Sevilla in Spain. Yet, like some sort of a super hero, the moment he pulls on the yellow jersey he is transformed. He was Brazil's top scorer during qualification with nine goals, and with the Samba Boys expected to go far, he'll have many opportunities to find the back of the net.
Wayne Rooney
England fans will be hoping that Wayne Rooney can transfer his club form for Manchester United to the national team. In the absence of Ronaldo, Rooney has been prolific, scoring 26 goals in the Premier League before injury curtailed his run. He scored nine for England during qualification, but if he is to win the Golden Boot, he'll need to stay on the pitch. In the two tournaments he's featured in for the Three Lions, he's failed to finish either of them, finding himself leaving the pitch early with an injury or a red card.
Sergio Aguero
Argentina are the unknown package of this World Cup. Their qualification campaign was awful, but Diego Maradona's team scraped through to take their place in South Africa. So if the Golden Boot winner is to come from this team, they'll need to pull themselves together. For this list we've gone for Maradona's son-in-law Sergio Aguero. We could just have easily picked Lionel Messi or Carlos Tevez, but Aguero's form towards the end of the season with club side Atletico Madrid was sensational.
Fernando Torres
The Liverpool striker is fighting his way back to fitness and the latest indications are that he'll be ready for Spain's first match against Switzerland. There is no question about Torres' ability in front of goal; the super-fast striker is arguably the greatest player at one-on-one situations currently playing football. And with players like Xavi, Iniesta, Fabregas and Alonso delivering the killer passes, he's sure to get more than his fair share of chances.
David Villa
Spain are the only country to feature two players on this list. Torres' strike partner and the top scorer at Euro 2008 has just completed a big-money move to Barcelona and will be eager to show the world why they forked out so many Euros for his services. Spain are bound to go far in this tournament and Villa and Torres may find themselves in a personal dual for the Golden Boot.
Didier Drogba
Yet another Golden Boot contender who finds himself in the 'group of death' (perhaps indicating just why it earned the nickname). Didier Drogba is now rightly recognised as one of the best strikers in the world. He may roll around on the floor a little too much and spend a lot of his time remonstrating with the referee, but there's no doubting his talent. He top scored in the Premier League this season, banging in 29 goals. The strongest striker taking part in South Africa, Drogba will cause defenders untold trouble. He's quick and can score from just about anywhere. And on top of all that, he's started belting in free-kicks at will with Chelsea.
Robin van Persie
It's never easy to predict what will happen with the Dutch. In one game they'll look dead-certs to lift the trophy, in the next they'll be three goals down. If they can hold it together and stop the usual infighting that has plagued many of their campaigns, it may just provide the platform for Arsenal's Robin van Persie to shine. Injury ruined the athletic striker's season. But before hurting his leg, he was standing toe-to-toe with the other best strikers in the Premier League. And on his return in the last few games, he was already looking very sharp. Yet he may find himself usurped by one of his own team-mates; Arjen Robben's form for Bayern Munich towards the end of the season make him a dark-horse for the Golden Boot.
Nicolas Anelka
Despite France needing the 'Hand of Gaul' to reach the World Cup, they remain among the favourites to lift the trophy. Looking around the team, play-for-player they're certainly one of the strongest; Gourcuff, Sagna, Evra, Henry, Benzema; these are world class players. And although they tend to spread the goals between them, we've selected Nicolas Anelka as one of our candidates to take the Golden Boot. The 31-year-old has a new lease of life at Chelsea and tends to look one of the sharpest players on the pitch whenever he's out there. His record for France is not fantastic (14 goals in 64 appearances), but considering his ability, that statistic makes no sense at all. Anelka is due a flurry of goals.
Oscar Perez (Mexico)
England fans have already had a glimpse of the Mexico stopper during the recent friendly. Yet if fans were sitting in Row Z, they might not have seen him. At just 5'7", Perez will be the shortest keeper on show. How he fares against the height of Peter Crouch or the strength of Didier Drogba could be entertaining.
David James (England)
Goalkeepers are an eccentric bunch, and in the absence of Germany's Jens Lehman, the most eccentric of the 2010 gang could well be our very own David James. Undoubtedly an excellent keeper, there's always a feeling that he's just one touch away from an almighty blooper. The art-loving afro-wearing former Spice Boy will have England fans on the edge of their seats.
Gianluigi Buffon (Italy)
The Italian stopper is one of the best, and he's also one of the most noticeable. His dark looks and none-too-shy way with words will see him stand out. And on top of that, the new Italy goalkeeper kit makes him look like some sort of second rate super hero.
Richard Kingson (Ghana)
Ghana's No 1 is a bit of a worry. Mainly because he's also Wigan's No 3. Now no disrespect to Wigan, but if he's not even making it onto the bench in Greater Manchester, is he really international standard? It could be fun finding out.
Ri Myong-Guk (North Korea)
If there's a pre-tournament favourite for which goalkeeper will concede the most goals, it has to be Myong-Guk. He's the North Korea stopper, and on top of being the No 1 for the most unfancied team in the tournament, they will be facing Brazil, Portugal and Ivory Coast in the group stage. He might as well start practicing picking the ball out of the net now.
Vincent Enyeama (Nigeria)
With a nickname like 'The Cat', there was never any doubt about Enyeama's inclusion on this list. The athletic and somewhat fearless keeper (as strikers with a one-on-one chance are likely to find out) has been a staple of the Nigerian team for the last decade. During this year's African Cup of Nations, Enyeama saved a spot-kick during a penalty shoot-out against Zambia. He scored one as well.
Hamidou Souleymanou (Cameroon)
Hamidou is no longer Cameroon's first choice keeper, but he can expect to be on the bench in South Africa.
Iker Casillas (Spain)
If you're looking for one of the best keepers at this summer's tournament, you would do well to cast your eye towards Spain. Their No 1 is Real Madrid stopper Iker Casilla. At 29 he's already made over 100 appearances for the national side and is undoubtedly one of the best in the business.
Julio Cesar (Brazil)
Running Casillas close for the best stopper at the tournament will be Julio Cesar of Brazil. The 30-year-old was an essential ingredient in Inter Milan's run to the Champions League title, pulling off a memorable save against Lionel Messi along the way.
Lounes Gaouaoui (Algeria)
England fans will get a good look at Gaouaoui when Fabio Capello's team meet Algeria during the group phase. The 32-year-old is well known for his leaping abilities and it would also appear he's willing to aim high at this World Cup: "The USA, Slovenia and especially England make for a very hard World Cup group," he said. "However, why shouldn't we aim for second place?" Why indeed.
Christine Bleakley
Frank Lampard's other half could well be making an appearance in South Africa, although she may need to get some time off from her role as presenter of the BBC's One Show.
Abigail Clancy
Peter Crouch's girlfriend is considered one of the most prominent England WAGs, appearing in lads mags on a regular basis and making appearances on various television shows.
Victoria Beckham
Even though he's injured, David Beckham is going to the World Cup in a coaching capacity. So expect 'queen WAG' Victoria to be close behind.
Coleen Rooney
Coleen has a burgeoning media career, working as a fashion columnist and TV presenter. And as the wife of England's star asset Wayne she will find herself the centre of attention in South Africa
Alex Curran
During the 2006 World Cup, Steven Gerrard's wife was one of the most prominent WAGs in attendance, being followed by the paparazzi at every turn in Baden-Baden.
Sylvie van der Vaart
At times the WAG culture in England seems out of control, but the phenomenon isn't unique to our shores. The wives and girlfriends of the major foreign stars can also expect to regularly find themselves on camera while supporting their men. One such lady is Sylvie van der Vaart, the wife of Dutch midfielder Rafael. The former model turned to TV hosting, including the 2008 Fifa World Cup Player of the Year ceremony.
Nagore Aranburu
The wife of Spain star Xabi Alonso is considered among the most prominent WAGs for the pre-tournament favourites. The Spanish actress caused a rift between Alonso and Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez during the midfielder's time on Merseyside. She selfishly decided to give birth to their son Jontxu in the middle of a Champions League campaign, forcing Alonso to miss a match against Inter Milan.
Alena Seredova
Seredova is the girlfriend of Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon. The former Miss Czech Republic has a clothing line and has featured in Penthouse magazine and Playboy.
Sarah Brandner
Brandner is considered 'queen of the WAGs' in Germany due to her relationship with German star Bastian Schweinsteiger.
Sarah Brandner, girlfriend of Bastian Schweinsteiger smiles ahead of the UEFA EURO 2008 Group B match between Croatia and Germany at Worthersee Stadion on June 12, 2008 in Klagenfurt, Austria
Sarah Brandner, girlfriend of German national player Bastian Schweinsteiger, presents the football euro-dirndl at Trachtenmoden Angermaier on June 6, 2008 in Munich, Germany. Brandner will work as TV-hostess during Euro 2008
Belen Rodriguez, girlfriend of Italian striker Marco Borriello, follows the group C match between the Netherlands and Italy in Bern, Switzerland, Monday, June 9, 2008, at the Euro 2008 European Soccer Championships in Austria and Switzerland. (AP Photo/Armando Franca)
Sylvie van der Vaart, wife of Dutch player Rafael van der Vaart, looks on prior to the UEFA EURO 2008 Group C match between Netherlands and Romania at Stade de Suisse Wankdorf on June 17, 2008 in Berne, Switzerland
Alena Seredova, wife of Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon reacts during the group C match between France and Italy in Zurich, Switzerland, Tuesday, June 17, 2008, at the Euro 2008 European Soccer Championships in Austria and Switzerland. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
Sylvia Klose, wife of Miroslav Klose is pictured ahead of the UEFA EURO 2008 semi-final match between Germany and Turkey at St. Jakob-Park on June 25, 2008 in Basel, Switzerland
Tereza Frankova, centre, girlfriend of Czech Republic's Milan Baros, waits for the beginning of the group A match between Czech Republic and Portugal in Geneva, Switzerland, Wednesday, June 11, 2008, at the Euro 2008 European Soccer Championships in Austria and Switzerland. (AP Photo/Armando Franca)
Silvia, grilfriend of Mario Gomez is pictured ahead of the UEFA EURO 2008 Group B match between Croatia and Germany at Worthersee Stadion on June 12, 2008 in Klagenfurt, Austria
Clara Bierhoff, wife of Germany's team manager Oliver Bierhoff talks on the phone ahead of the UEFA EURO 2008 Group B match between Austria and Germany at Ernst Happel Stadion on June 16, 2008 in Vienna, Austria
Jenny, girlfriend of Simon Rolfes looks on ahead of the UEFA EURO 2008 Quarter Final match between Portugal and Germany at St. Jakob-Park on June 19, 2008 in Basel, Switzerland
Wives and girlfriends of the Swedish team are pictured ahead of the UEFA EURO 2008 Group D match between Sweden and Spain at Stadion Tivoli Neu on June 14, 2008 in Innsbruck, Austria
German national soccer team player Miroslav Klose, left, and his wife Sylvia Klose talk to FC Bayern Munich CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, right, at their arrival at the airport near Munich, southern Germany, on Monday, June 30, 2008. (AP Photo/Uwe Lein)
Juergen Klinsmann, second from left, new coach of German first soccer division Bundesliga team FC Bayern Munich, welcomes German national soccer team players Phillip Lahm, and his girlfriend Claudia at their arrival at the airport near Munich, southern Germany, on Monday, June 30, 2008. Left is German chef Alfons Schuhbeck. (AP Photo/Uwe Lein)
Nicola (right) welcomes her boyfriend Philipp Lahm (left) of the German National Soccer team as he arrives at the Munich airport on June 30, 2008 in Munich, Germany. The players retourning home after it finished second in the Euro 2008 football championships the day before in Vienna
Sylvia (left) welcomes her husband Miroslav Klose (right) of the German National Soccer team as he arrives at the Munich airport on June 30, 2008 in Munich, Germany. The players retourning home after it finished second in the Euro 2008 football championships the day before in Vienna
Sarah Brandner pick up her boyfriend Bastian Schweinsteiger of the German National Soccer team as he arrives at the Munich airport on June 30, 2008 in Munich, Germany. The players were returning home after finishing second in the Euro 2008 football championships the day before in Vienna
Former German international football player Lothar Matthaeus and his girlfriend Kristina Liliana arrive prior to the UEFA EURO 2008 Final match between Germany and Spain at Ernst Happel Stadion on June 29, 2008 in Vienna, Austria
Sarah Brandner, girlfriend of Bastian Schweinsteiger looks on during the UEFA EURO 2008 Final match between Germany and Spain at Ernst Happel Stadion on June 29, 2008 in Vienna, Austria
Prince Albert II of Monaco and Charlene Wittstock look on during the UEFA EURO 2008 Final match between Germany and Spain at Ernst Happel Stadion on June 29, 2008 in Vienna, Austria
Sarah Brandner, girlfriend of Bastian Schweinsteiger looks on during the UEFA EURO 2008 Final match between Germany and Spain at Ernst Happel Stadion on June 29, 2008 in Vienna, Austria
Jule (left), girlfriend of Rene Adler is pictured ahead of the UEFA EURO 2008 Final match between Germany and Spain at Ernst Happel Stadion on June 29, 2008 in Vienna, Austria
Sarah Brandner, girlfriend of Bastian Schweinsteiger looks on during the UEFA EURO 2008 Final match between Germany and Spain at Ernst Happel Stadion on June 29, 2008 in Vienna, Austria
Piotr Trochowski's girl friend Melanie during the UEFA EURO 2008 semi-final match between Germany and Turkey at St. Jakob-Park on June 25, 2008 in Basel, Switzerland
Viktoria Kuranyi, wife of German footballer Kevin Kuranyi during the UEFA EURO 2008 semi-final match between Germany and Turkey at St. Jakob-Park on June 25, 2008 in Basel, Switzerland
Daniele De Rossi of Italy's wife Tamara Pisnoli and daughter Gaia look on during the UEFA EURO 2008 quarter-final match between Spain and Italy at Ernst Happel Stadion on June 22, 2008 in Vienna, Austria
Sonia Amoruso, wife of Italian forward Alessandro Del Piero, waves prior to the quarter-final match between Spain and Italy in Vienna, Austria, Sunday, June 22, 2008, at the Euro 2008 European Soccer Championships in Austria and Switzerland. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
Sylvie van der Vaart, wife of Dutch player Rafael van der Vaart points ahead of the UEFA EURO 2008 Quarter Final match between Netherlands and Russia at St. Jakob-Park on June 21, 2008 in Basel, Switzerland
Sarah Brandner, girlfriend of Bastian Schweinsteiger carries some drinks prior to the UEFA EURO 2008 Quarter Final match between Portugal and Germany at St. Jakob-Park on June 19, 2008 in Basel, Switzerland
Sylwia Klose, wife of Germany's Miroslav Klose, smiles after the quarter-final match between Portugal and Germany in Basel, Switzerland, Thursday, June 19, 2008, at the Euro 2008 European Soccer Championships in Austria and Switzerland. Germany defeated Portugal 3-2. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev)
Conny Lehmann, wife of Germany's Jens Lehmann, is accompanied by an emergency doctor as she leaves the stands after the quarter-final match between Portugal and Germany in Basel, Switzerland, Thursday, June 19, 2008, at the Euro 2008 European Soccer Championships in Austria and Switzerland. Germany defeated Portugal 3-2. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev)
Jenny (R), girlfriend of Simon Rolfes, Melanie (L), girlfriend of Piotr Trochowski and Sylvia (C), wife of Miroslav Klose look on after the UEFA EURO 2008 Quarter Final match between Portugal and Germany at St. Jakob-Park on June 19, 2008 in Basel, Switzerland
Sarah Brandner, girlfriend of Bastian Schweinsteiger celebrates after Germany defeated Portugal during the UEFA EURO 2008 Quarter Final match between Portugal and Germany at St. Jakob-Park on June 19, 2008 in Basel, Switzerland
Germany's Bastian Schweinsteiger, right, kisses his girlfriend Sarah Brandner after the quarter-final match between Portugal and Germany in Basel, Switzerland, Thursday, June 19, 2008, at the Euro 2008 European Soccer Championships in Austria and Switzerland. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev)
French NBA basketball player Tony Parker, left, and actress Eva Longoria, right, are seen during the group C match between France and Italy in Zurich, Switzerland, Tuesday, June 17, 2008, at the Euro 2008 European Soccer Championships in Austria and Switzerland. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
Alena Seredova, wife of Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, waits for the start of the group C match between the Netherlands and Italy in Bern, Switzerland, Monday, June 9, 2008, at the Euro 2008 European Soccer Championships in Austria and Switzerland. (AP Photo/Armando Franca)
Alena Seredova, wife of Italian goalie Gianluigi Buffon, waits for the start of the group C match between the Netherlands and Italy in Bern, Switzerland, Monday, June 9, 2008, at the Euro 2008 European Soccer Championships in Austria and Switzerland. (AP Photo/Armando Franca)
Sarah Brandner, girlfriend of German national player Bastian Schweinsteiger, presents the football euro-dirndl at Trachtenmoden Angermaier on June 6, 2008 in Munich, Germany. Brandner will work as TV-hostess during Euro 2008
Sarah Brandner, girlfriend of German national player Bastian Schweinsteiger, presents the football euro-dirndl at Trachtenmoden Angermaier on June 6, 2008 in Munich, Germany. Brandner will work as TV-hostess during Euro 2008
Sarah Brandner, girlfriend of German national player Bastian Schweinsteiger, presents the football euro-dirndl at Trachtenmoden Angermaier on June 6, 2008 in Munich, Germany. Brandner will work as TV-hostess during Euro 2008

There may not be a whole lot of room left in the storehouse of certainties owned by Fabio Capello, but we can be sure of a few after England's less than emphatic opening statement here on Saturday night.

One is that he will select goalkeeper Robert Green for Friday's game with Algeria in Cape Town only at the risk of a crushing blow to his reputation for utterly unsentimental judgement.



Professionals who have travelled as far as Capello in the game make the dodging of such a prospect not so much a rule as an article of faith.



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It means that, having been burned once by his faith – even tortured – in Green, he is unlikely to invite full-scale incineration by ring-posting the decision that unravelled so devastatingly for the goalkeeper when he allowed the United States back into a game from which they should have been routinely expelled.



However much he bleeds publicly for Green, all of the England coach's deepest instincts will insist he moves on, most likely by handing the job to the inexperienced, but currently vibrant, Joe Hart.



Almost as certain, surely, is that he will accept, as so many before him have been obliged to do, that Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard are forever doomed to be two beautiful football people who simply cannot make a marriage work.



Finally, and potentially just as crucially, he will no doubt be questioning whether Jamie Carragher, for all the splendour of his defensive acumen and competitive character, is any longer quick enough to provide a solution to the sickening accumulation of the problems in the middle of defence that saw Rio Ferdinand's replacement Ledley King cut down by yet another injury.



Tottenham's Michael Dawson, raw like Hart but also filled with the conviction that he has moved on to another level of performance in recent months, is now looking the most viable partner for John Terry.



There is one more reality that Capello is sure not to have put aside. It is that, even if he privately concedes selection mistakes to which he would no more admit publicly than he might adopt Diego Maradona's promise to run naked in the streets, he will neither concede nor believe that what happened here represented some killing blow to England's prospects.



The briefest inspection of Slovenia's 1-0 victory over Algeria, one driven like the American draw by serious goalkeeper-error, will have told Capello that England's chances of winning Group C have been touched by no more than a flesh wound.



It is true that Capello has to do some working repairs but, with the return of the midfield stability provided by Gareth Barry and with perhaps the recognition that in Joe Cole there is much more chance of the sustained coherent aggression that Shaun Wright-Phillips seems incapable of providing, England are still obviously capable of re-making themselves.



There is also the not-inconsiderable value of perspective – which is available almost randomly whenever you trace the emergence of putative champions over the course of a few weeks.



England, who have won only five of their 13 opening games, provided one of the most encouraging examples of growth through the tournament when they won it for the only time in 1966. The Ramsey team were booed off Wembley after a 0-0 draw with Uruguay and acquired their first serious momentum only when Bobby Charlton scored a goal of transforming brilliance against Mexico a few days later.



The potential of someone like Gerrard or Wayne Rooney to do something similar against the Algerians beneath Table Mountain is self-evident, as is the fact that England have much the greater capacity to score the goals that are still most likely to settle the winning of the group.



For the moment at least, it would certainly be a perverse reverse of the usual English tendency to over-state their chances to believe at this early point that all serious hope of a significant impact here has already been extinguished.



History insists the majority of winners, and those who run them most closely, do not first appear trailing clouds of glory. They come with apprehensions or disappointments about this or that. They have heroes lurking in the shadows and often coaches half-crippled by critical disdain. One of the most dramatically vindicated, Italy's Enzo Bearzot, was spat at in a Spanish street before delivering a sensational victory in 1982. But, in the flush of victory, it was written of the one-time, pipe-smoking pariah, "Not only did Bearzot win the World Cup, he set free the sweet, caged bird of Italian football."



The chance of such lyrical praise soon washing over Capello did not look so likely here when he was surrounded by a media scrum sniffing, perhaps, a little blood and demanding some public atonement for a series of "mistakes."



"I made no mistakes," said Il Capo. "We are talking about football. I am happy that we made the chances to score seven goals."



Yes, he would say that – all coaches have in their time – and when Capello was being examined it was not hard to recall one of the more recent examples of a World Cup coach placed on trial. It was in Stuttgart four years ago and the man who was being investigated, after just one game, was France's eccentric Raymond Domenech.



France, despite the presence of men like Thierry Henry, Zinedine Zidane, Patrick Vieira, Lilian Thuram and Claude Makelele, indeed looked awful in a 0-0 draw with Switzerland.



Domenech said that France would improve, they had the means and they would simply bed down and become progressively more competitive. Of course, it happened that way, all the way to a final which might easily have been won if Zidane had not been ensnared by the provocation of Italy's Marco Materazzi.



Of course, it is true that precisely the opposite can occur. Four years earlier, France also started wretchedly, losing to Senegal on a rainy night in Seoul. Vieira looked as if he was playing from a failing memory, Henry was listless and Zidane was out with injury. France, the reigning champions, went from bad to worse and were eliminated in the group without scoring a goal.



Which way will England go now? They will qualify from the group, this much we know. What happens after that rests in the ability of Capello to mask his weakness and accentuate his strength. There are no shortages, by the highest standards, in either category, but it is not overly optimistic to believe that stressing the positive was not the hardest of chores in the African night.



Rooney was judged to be poor in many eyes but it was a verdict that ignored those inevitable moments when he reminded us that he was the best player on the field and among the elite of the tournament. Three of them might easily have ended in goals by team-mates, twice when he fed Aaron Lennon with time and space to find his target, and once when he delivered the ball exquisitely to the feet of Wright-Phillips.



Emile Heskey was again the warrior without a spear of his own, but Capello is plainly prepared to live with this and you didn't have to look too deeply to understand why. His hard and pummelling presence helped create Gerrard's superb opener and the disruption he caused to the confidence of the American defenders did not relent.



Gerrard looked like a captain and one capable, once again, of the highest level of inspiration but not a midfielder manipulator – a fact Capello surely has to acknowledge and act upon in the course of this tournament.



This, when the problems have been duly recognised, is not the profile of a team for whom hope has been realistically extinguished. It was something to take away from the new stadium which no doubt will live, somewhere deep down, for ever in the consciousness of Robert Green.



Ultimately, it is his trial, his battle, and the good news is that he is a strong character who has a sense of life beyond the touchline.



For the next few weeks, of course, nothing exists for Capello beyond that often cruel boundary. But then, while we are listing them, there is maybe one more certainty to mention. It is that he will see it is ridiculously early to believe that his cause is already lost. Winning coaches do not happen by way of such thinking. Nor do most World Cups.

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