World Cup Group C Preview, Predictions, Fixtures

Group C Odds: England 1/3; USA 4/1; Algeria 14/1; Slovenia 10/1.
Group C Schedule:
England v USA, Rustenburg, June 12, 8.30pm
Algeria v Slovenia, Polokwane, June 13, 1.30pm
Slovenia v USA, Johannesburg, June 18, 4pm
England v Algeria, Cape Town, June 18, 8.30pm
Slovenia v England, Port Elizabeth, June 23, 4pm
USA v Algeria, Pretoria, June 23, 4pm
*All times local [ad#as2]

World Cup Group C Teams:
England: Gareth Barry; Jamie Carragher; Michael Carrick; Ashley Cole; Joe Cole; Peter Crouch; Michael Dawson; Jermain Defoe; Steven Gerrard; Robert Green; Joe Hart; Emile Heskey; David James; Glen Johnson; Ledley King; Frank Lampard; Aaron Lennon; James Milner; Wayne Rooney; John Terry; Matthew Upson;Stephen Warnock; Shaun Wright-Phillips.

USA: Jozy Altidore; DaMarcus Beasley; Carlos Bocanegra; Jonathan Bornstein; Michael Bradley; Edson Buddle; Steve Cherundolo; Ricardo Clark; Clint Dempsey; Jay DeMerit; Landon Donovan; Maurice Edu; Benny Feilhaber; Robbie Findley; Herculez Gomez; Clarence Goodson; Brad Guzan; Marcus Hahnemann; Stuart Holden; Tim Howard; Oguchi Onyewu; Jonathan Spector; José Francisco Torres

Algeria: Djamel Abdoun; Nadir Belhadj; Habib Bellaïd; Rais Bolhi; Ryad Boudebouz; Madjid Bougherra; Faouzi Chaouchi; Rafik Djebbour; Lounes Gaouaoui;Abdelkader Ghezzal; Adlène Guedioura; Rafik Halliche; Foued Kadir; Mehdi Lacen; Abdelkader Laifaoui; Yazid Mansouri; Karim Matmour; Carl Medjani;Djamel Mesbah; Rafik Saifi; Antar Yahia; Hassan Yebda; Karim Ziani.

Slovenia: Valter Birsa; Miso Brecko; Bostjan Cesar; Zlatko Dedic; Elvedin Dzinic; Suad Filekovic; Jasim Handanovic; Samir Handanovic; Branko Ilic; Bojan Jokic; Andraz Kirm; Andrej Komac; Robert Koren; Rene Krhin; Zlatan Ljubijankic; Tim Matavz; Matej Mavric-Rozic; Milivoje Novakovic; Nejc Pecnik;Aleksandar Radosavljevic; Aleksander Seliga; Dalibor Stevanovic; Marko Suler.

Group C Predictions:

Frank Finnegan: Group C opens with what is by all accounts the most anticipated match in US history – I can speak personally to that, as I’ve had June 12 circled on every calendar and entered into every electronic device I own since the moment the World Cup draw came out all those months ago. While the match itself has obvious importance, of even greater importance is the US’ reaction to the result – win, lose or draw. Taking emotion out of the equation, an England victory is the expected result here. If Slovenia get a win over Algeria on Sunday, that really puts them in the driver’s seat and puts the US under tremendous pressure in their matchup on June 18. I do not rate Algeria’s chances, but I will be pulling for them to grab a draw against Slovenia on Sunday. I believe this US team is a tough, resilient bunch and they will find a way to grab 2nd in this group and advance.

Peter Howard: It’s hard to say a group hinges on the first game, but that’s kind of the case here. At the end of the day, I’m certainly picking England and the USA to advance out of Group Stage. However, the loser of that opening game between those two nations will find itself needing to play nearly perfect in the next to matches. An untimely misstep could send the loser of that first game home, whether it’s England or the US. It’s doubtful it will come to that. Algeria has team turmoil leading into the tournament. A solid side, it’s an unlucky draw, and adding this drama will not help. Slovenia falls into the “happy to be there” category of nations. It’s just hard to imagine Slovenia threatening to advance after three matches. The winner Saturday claims the group, the loser should fall behind and take the second spot.

Ron Patel: I think I’m in the minority here. England will cruise to the group win, no doubt. But I’m not picking the U.S. to join them. Rather, I’m slotting in Slovenia. Here’s the thing, as Peter mentioned: England will beat the U.S. in the opener, and Slovenia takes out Algeria. Thus, the U.S. is already in a hole. Slovenia knows how to defend, and if nothing else, will get a draw out of the U.S. game. I don’t think for one second Slovenia is just happy to be there. Heck, they beat Russia in the playoffs, and had they been at the World Cup under Hiddink, everyone would have expected Russia to reach the quarterfinals, assuming an average draw. The U.S. has improved, but they caught Spain on a bad day last summer. Who else did they beat at the Confederations Cup? Egypt. The U.S. defense is in shambles. England and Slovenia to advance.

Alex Michaels: When the draw was made back in December, England coach Fabio Capello could not have wished for a better group if he’d have bribed the FIFA officials himself (note to FIFA, FA, Capello, mafia etc: no harm meant, please don’t sue or kill me). If Rooney and Co. don’t make it out of this group, we might as well bring back the umbrella man Steve McClaren for all the hope we’d have. Only nerves can stop England and the USA going through here, so it’s basically all in their hands regardless of the opening result between those two. Enough said.

Greg Neville: I labeled this group “C for cruisy” and I’m sticking with that as I don’t see England, especially Capello’s men, and the US having any troubles in advancing to the knockout stages. Saturday night’s clash between the old rivals will be the pick of the group and hopefully it lives up to the hype but don’t expect a repeat of the 1950 classic – a 1-0 win to the USA. The story line is the same with one a giant of the game and overwhelming favourite pitted against the underdog and a nation that hasn’t fully embraced the game. To quote Walter Bahr, a US midfielder from that historic win in Brazil 60 years ago: “This US team is dangerous, just like we were in 1950. I hope we win. If not, I hope they can hold their heads up.” And that they will, hold their heads up, and go on to get results against Slovenia and Algeria.

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