BfB Goes To The World Cup 2010 (Without leaving the front room)

Before the game the rumours give us a team of Green, Johnson, King, Terry, A Cole, Lennon, Lampard, Gerrard, Milner, Heskey and Rooney and as I mull that I wonder how we have got to the stage of rumoured teams – any number of people including myself are gnashing teeth at the idea of lacking a holding midfielder which might not be the case cause – frankly – what is a rumoured team? – and how this kind of speculation is probably not a good thing for the national psyche.

It suddenly hits me that the Referee Brazilian Carlos Simon is – in Tabloid Talk – called Carly Simon and will be subject to jokes about him being “so vain”. He has a list of twenty swear words that players must avoid. One has to wonder if the word “Fanny” is one of the twenty being a funny word for the backside to one team and something else to the other. The American keeper has Tourette’s Syndrome – is one allowed to take action against him for swearing?

As that team is confirmed one looks at the line up – Wayne Rooney deployed alongside Emile Heskey with Frank Lampard to break forward and James Milner and Aaron Lennon on the flanks supported by Ashley Cole and Glenn Johnson – it is very much the attacking formation which is vulnerable to having the ball kept from it although so far in World Cup 2010 no one has played a side with as much commitment to goal scoring.

Aaron Lennon and Emile Heskey fill roles that David Beckham and Michael Owen would have been in had fate taken their careers differently. Juan Sebastián Verón was back to full strength for Argentina having been written off previously in bad spells at club level. Football is fickle.

England start off the game superbly with Steven Gerrard doing everything right when feeding Heskey in the box and taking the ball back into his stride before poking past Tim Howard. The goal in four minutes signals the start of some pressure with Wayne Rooney feeding Aaron Lennon cuts across to James Milner – a defensive leg preventing a second.

The Americans have chances but they are ranged efforts and none more typical than Clint Dempsey’s optimistic hit after his attempts to beat the imperious Gerrard had been stifled but Rob Green fails to get body and weight behind the ball and pushes the harmless shot over the goal line. It is an equaliser and the result of some woeful goalkeeping.

England then left looking at how the good start evaporated into a level scoreline at half time. The early success using Heskey to link midfield and attack shows the limits of Lampard’s involvement and the attacking midfielder has struggled to get involved in the first half.

The second half is England trying to make up for Green’s mistake and Lennon and first half sub Shaun Wright-Phillips press the flanks. Wright-Phillips has a glorious chance but fails to to power the ball in, Heskey has a chance but does not place it. Chances come and are spurned – Emile Heskey and another sub Peter Crouch head over and Rooney fires a delicious hit wide.

The Americans show strength although Oguchi Onyewu is lucky not to be a second red card of the tournament with referee Carlos Simon flashing cards freely and Onyewu taking the job of making sure Rooney is shackled in any way possible. The Americans bed in and frustrate leaving England pushing the ball around the back facing eleven men behind the ball.

The draw drags in and England put in a performance not dissimilar to the Argentine display although are undone by an error by a goalkeeper.

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