It’s the Germans again

England’s reward for scraping through the group stages is a Sunday showdown with old foes Germany. It was a better performance from England today, but they will have to up their game to get past the well drilled Germans in the last 16.

Despite only beating Slovenia 1-0, England could really have had four or five. I thought they looked very anxious before Defoe gave them the lead after 22 minutes, it’s amazing what a decent cross can do for a team, isn’t it Aaron Lennon and Shaun Wright-Phillips!

In the end I suppose we have to give Capello credit, his two tactical changes worked as they both combined to make and score the goal. Capello even showed he is prepared to be flexible with his team, when he brought Jo Cole on for Rooney in the 72 minute and played Cole off the front man.

One negative though, is the decision to still leave Gerrard stuck out on the left. Although the skipper had a better game today, I still believe you have to play your best players in their best positions, unleashing Gerrard in a more attcking role would suit him better.

The bookmakers make England the marginal favourites at 17/10 with William Hill, Germany are 15/8 with Totesport and the Draw is 23/10 with Ladbrokes.

After what was a pretty crap non entertaining group, I now can’t wait for Sunday.

England postmortem continues

The debate was still strongly raging throughout Monday on TV and radio into England’s 1-1 draw with USA on Saturday evening.

I noticed the media attention seems to have switched a bit form Rob Green and now onto manager Fabio Capello.

His decision making has been getting called into question now gradually more and more since he announced his final 23 man squad. I too have quite a few issues with that sqaud and some of the decisions made since.

Why after 2 years did he decide to go back to playing Gerrard and Lampard together? I know Gareth Barry’s injury has upset the balance of the team, but I would of thought the best way to handle that would be to slot Milner or Carrick into Barry’s role?

Why was James Milner preferred to Joe Cole down the left? I know this was Milner’s position up until last season, so it’s not alien to him, but he had been ill all week. And to then bring on Shaun Wright-Phillips (who shouldn’t even be in the squad) ahead of Cole to play down the left was unbelievable. What kind of message is that sending out to Joe?

The decision to stick with Rob Green also backfired. I have stated before on this blog that I believe David James to be England’s best allround goalkeeper, they both have a mistake in them, but James offers more to the team in my view.

Anyway, Fabio has made his choice to go with Green and I believe it would be wrong to change that now. Green deserves the chance to redeem himself.

I’m not going to criticize Ledley King’s inclusion, I was one who believed he should be in the squad. And his injury is not the knee. Although I am going to question Matthew Upson’s position in the squad. For the last 12-18 months he has been Capello’s 3rd choice center half, so where has he disappeared too?

If Capello has seen fit to promote Ledley and now Jamie Carragher above him, then why the hell did he take him?

For all too many years now we have seen England managers trying to stick square pegs in round holes. In Capello, up until recently, we seemed to have stopped doing this. Why has he waited until the opening game of a world cup to start doing this now? He should have had his plans for Gareth Barry’s absence finalised weeks ago.

It’s not all doom and gloom though, afterall England only drew with USA, who aren’t the worst side in the world. We should still be able to get out of the group.

With Gareth Barry due back on Friday, I expect to see an improvement in England. This should see us going back to the formation that has served us well during the qualifying, the Capello method that has worked.

Barry’s importance to the team has been highlighted more in his absence. He is one of those players that dosen’t set the world on fire when he’s there, but you miss him when he’s gone. It might sound harsh, but he is England’s water carrier.

Along with a new center half partner for John Terry, it remains to be seen if these are the only changes to the team. Capello’s rigid 4-4-2 should be good enough to get out of this group.

Will he be flexible enough to tinker with it later on in the tournament though?

Is Zamora giving Capello a headache?

Bobby Zamora has yet again produced the goods and is surely now in with a shout of maybe forcing his way into England’s World Cup squad. Not only is Zamora scoring a lot of goals, his form is great and he is leading the line well and England have a shortage of men who seem to be able to do both.

Zamora’s most recent impressive performance came this week with him leading the line and Fulham to a memorable 4-1 win over Italian giants Juventus, a match that Fabio Capello attended, presumably to watch Zamora as I doubt it would have been to see Paul Konchesky.

With players falling injured on an almost weekly basis at the moment, the form of Zamora is one brightspot in what has been a pretty bad spell for Capello and his England squad.

It still remains to be seen if Capello will take four or five strikers, before Beckham’s injury I would have said four (plus Walcott as a midfielder), but that maybe could change now such is the form of Zamora and a space becoming available with Beckham’s absence.

His preferred first choice, Emile Heskey is struggling to hold down a regular slot with Aston Villa such is his poor form, he is well short of goals and confidence and this must be starting to become a worry for Capello.

Jermain Defoe has just torn his hamstring, the prognosis isn’t too accurate at the moment either, the word from Harry Redknapp is “a few weeks.” Staying with Spurs, Peter Crouch is currently out of favour, although Defoe’s injury will open a few doors for him and his last appearance for England won’t have done him any harm.

Carlton Cole is up and down, he’s had a few injury problems this season and at the moment seems well short of the form he showed under Zola’s guidence this time last year. Playing in a struggling team probably won’t help him either, he (and West Ham) could do with a good run of games and decent performances between now and the end of the season.

I know he was unlikely to feature, but Michael Owen is ruled out. I’m sure Capello would have liked to have had the problem of having to decide whether or not to leave Owen out after him banging in 10 goals between now and the end of the season for Manchester United. Sadly that can’t now happen.

Taking injuries and the lack of form of some of Capello’s probable squad into consideration, and the excellent form and goal scoring return of Zamora, and the unlikely call up of Zamora now looks more and more possible with every passing game.