Finally, someone asks the right question (or so I think) – which is your favourite team – instead of asking which team you think will win. As we have seen so far, on their day, anyone can beat anyone. So while you can have a favourite team, but you can’t say which team you think will win.
Cases in point are below-par performances from Brazil, England, The Netherlands, Italy, Sweden and several other ‘big’ teams, and excellent performances from T&T, Ghana, Ecuador and Australia.
My favourite team is England; I’ve been a ManU supporter for four years now, and it is particularly because I’m familiar with most of their players that I am supporting England. It is easier for me to form an opinion on who should play and the formations that the team employs, so while I’m more likely to criticise them, I’m also supporting them (if that makes any sense).
England, I believe, are a middle centered team – they’ve got great players in the midfield and in defence, but lack in quality up front and in goal. This explains the difficulty they’ve had in scoring recently since Sven has surprisingly held the midfield back. Rooney isn’t a striker in my book and works best in a poaching role, ala Van Nistelrooy and Paul Scholes. I’ve never rated Owen highly either, and you just have to compare his performance with that of a Drogba, Henry, Crespo, Forlan or even a Ronaldo to see that he just isn’t up to the mark.
Before the World Cup began, I’d jokingly suggested to Aishwarya that England should play a 4-6-0 formation, given how strong their midfield is. Now, I think it would help for them to put their best 11 on the field, and maybe dispense with Crouch and Owen (sacriligious as that sounds). I can crib that a Sean Wright Phillips or a Darren Bent should have made it to the squad, but that’s pointless. That said, I think Crouch has been excellent as a supporting striker, but he just doesn’t have the finishing touch. Walcott, unfortunately, has been a spectator. Joe Cole has been showboating, and Mourinho would have taken him off for all the useless display of skill, and lack of result. England, unfortunately, isn’t playing well as a team and I’d rather have a John Terry or a Gerrard as a captain because if you can’t have a manager who can fire the team up, you should at least have a captain who can.
I have a slightly unusual game plan in mind:
My starting 11:
Paul Robinson (GK)
Gary Neville (LB)
Rio Ferdinand (CB)
John Terry (c) (CB)
Jaime Carragher (RB)
Joe Cole (LW)
Owen Hargreaves (CDM)
Frank Lampard (CAM)
Steven Gerrard (CAM)
David Beckham (RW)
Peter Crouch (A)
David James (GK)
Crouch as a striker is there to win the ball, and to set up a scoring opportunity for either Gerrard, Lampard or Joe Cole who’ll play in a floating role – one of the three will fall back when the other two strive forward to support Crouch, so you switch to a 4-3-3 in attack from a 4-3-2-1 in defence. Beckham will flit between RW and CDM depending on the situation. Lampard and Gerrard are the key players while attacking and Terry and Ferdinand in defence.
In case of an attacking substitution, Lennon replaces Beckham or Rooney replaces Crouch, and Gerrard drops back.
About ‘the favourites to win’:
Here’s something you’ve probably not heard elsewhere: the team that gets through the second round with minimum yellow cards are the favourites to win.
Otherwise, on current form, Argentina look the best team on the field. But a few days ago, the Czech’s looked just as good, if not better, so form isn’t permanent and almost all teams are brimming with class. Still, keep an eye out for the Portuguese and the Spanish. Particularly the Spanish.