worldcup 2010


Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Argentina is preparing for shootout Romero

Argentina is studying Germany''s penalty kick techniques ahead of their World Cup quarterfinal on Saturday, reports AP.
Diego Maradona''s team is hoping to avoid a repeat of the 2006 quarterfinals, when Germany beat Argentina 4-2 in a shootout.
Jens Lehmann stopped spot kicks from Roberto Ayala and Esteban Cambiasso in Berlin after consulting a sheet of the Argentine penalty takers and the direction they usually took their kicks.
Goalkeeper Sergio Romero said Monday that was a "smart move" by the Germans, and that Argentina has copied the tactic by studying videos of how opponents take penalties.
"This time we have to be well prepared for everything," Romero said. "In that moment it was a very smart move on their part, saving a piece of paper to know who was going to take the kick."
While Argentina has added Lionel Messi and Gonzalo Higuain to its starting lineup, Germany''s traditional strengths have been supplemented by an injection of young players since the meeting four years ago.
"Germany has tall and powerful players who go up for all the corners and free kicks," Romero said, adding that striker Lukas Podolski "has a great shot" and Mesut Oezil "chases down every ball and never gives anything up".
One of the holdovers from the 2006 Germany squad is striker Miroslav Klose. He scored the opening goal in Germany''s 4-1 win in the second round against England to tie Pele at 12 World Cup goals overall.
"He''s very dangerous and he can score a goal against you at any moment," Romero said of the Bayern Munich striker.
Argentina and Germany have faced each other in two World Cup finals. In 1986, the South Americans won 3-2 with Maradona at his peak. Four years later the Germans won 1-0 to lift the trophy.

Maradona revels in new -found respect

Argentina coach Diego Maradona is delighted that he is finally receiving the praise he believes he deserves after leading the country to four successive victories at the World Cup finals.
Maradona was heavily criticised towards the end of the qualifying campaign when it appeared there was the chance at Argentina would not make it to South Africa. That now seems a long time ago as Argentina played with confidence en route to a quarter-final showdown with Germany.
Maradona said: ‘I feel very proud to be part of this moment. Because as a manager before they said I am clueless and a c**k. But now after four games they say I’m great.
‘The main difference as a manager now is I would like to put on the shirt and get on the pitch. But it’s beautiful to be among those players and that group. The win is always beautiful as a player and a manager. When you’re on the pitch you can run and say things that you can’t say from the bench.
‘We will try to find the best team, the elite team to play Germany. But it will be the team that gives me guarantees to win the game.’
Argentina have so much talent on the bench, including Sergio Aguero, that Maradona has trouble juggling his team. He added: ‘But my relationship with the lads is excellent. The heavyweights that are left on the bench when they come on they do well out of respect for the group, the manager and the shirt.
‘We didn’t come on holiday, we came to leave our skin here to make the Argentina people proud of us. We can manage them and help them and give them love. But what we are achieving is the effort of my 23. We are very proud of our 23 players and I think those four games belong to them.’
Meanwhile, Carlos Tevez admits he cannot bear to think of losing to Germany in Saturday’s World Cup quarter-final.
Tevez told ‘Why not think I can be a champion? Every night, I do. I have a hunger for glory so great that I can not imagine the great sadness there would be without the cup. I could not bear to lose on Saturday.’
Tevez’s non-stop approach and skill have made him a crowd favourite, and he is desperate to deliver the biggest prize of all for the fans. He said: ‘It makes me really happy. It must be my way of playing. I give everything for every ball, and people identify with that. Hopefully, with all the boys, we can give them the joy we all hope for.’

(Agencies . Buenos Aires)

Tevez can’t stand thought of not winning WC

If Lionel Messi represents the genius of Argentina, Carlos Tevez embodies its fighting spirit.
A relentless warrior who would run through a brick wall for his team and country, Tevez has captured the hearts of Argentines after his two goals against Mexico set up a quarterfinal against Germany.
‘I have a hunger for glory so great than I can’t even imagine not winning the cup,’ Tevez told Argentine newspaper Clarin. ‘It would be very sad, I could not bear to lose on Saturday.’
In many ways, Tevez is the opposite of the clean cut and mild-mannered Messi, who remains Argentina’s undisputed superstar despite not scoring any goals yet in the World Cup.
Tevez grew up in a rough Buenos Aires neighborhood known as ‘Fort Apache.’ That’s how he got the nickname ‘El Apache,’ though he prefers the more endearing ‘Carlitos’ used by Maradona, who also hails from a modest background in the slums of the Argentine capital.
The 26-year-old striker has a burn scar stretching down his neck from his right ear, the result of a scalding accident when he was a child. In a country obsessed with plastic surgery, the fact that he has refused to remove it says something about his character.
And while much has been said about English players entering the World Cup exhausted by the grueling Premier League season, the Manchester City striker says he has never played better.
Tevez’ second goal against Mexico, a powerful right-foot shot from 25 meters (yards), was one of the most spectacular goals of the tournament. However, he admitted that his disputed first goal should have been ruled offside.
‘At first I thought the goal would be disallowed,’ Tevez said after the Mexico match. ‘I know I was in an offside position … but as long as they say it was a goal that’s good enough for me and the team.’
Tevez made his debut for Boca Juniors in the Argentine league at 17. He moved to Brazil to play for Corinthians before transferring to English club West Ham in 2006.
After a two-year loan spell at Manchester United he moved to cross-town rival Manchester City last season and scored 23 league goals for his new club.
Tevez is one of five players in the squad remaining from the 2006 World Cup, when Argentina lost a quarterfinal penalty shootout to Saturday’s opponent, Germany. It’s a rematch that Tevez says he’s looking forward to without fear.
‘I was more afraid of Mexico than Germany,’ he told Clarin. ‘Because the Mexicans play better football. They took the ball from us in the first minutes of the first half and at the start of the second. We would have suffered more if we hadn’t struck at the right moments.’

(Associated Press . Johannesburg)

Dutch ‘underdogs’ ready for Brazilian challenge

The Dutch will be the underdogs for the first time at these World Cup finals when they play five-time champions Brazil in the quarter-finals on Friday, Netherlands coach Bert van Marwijk said on Tuesday.
The 58-year-old slightly toned down his remarks of Monday when he had said that the Dutch were ‘almost unbeatable’ to declaring on Tuesday that they posed an ‘enormous challenge’.
However, van Marwijk said that his side’s target was to be crowned champions of the world for the first time in their history after losing in two finals and they would have to beat sides of the quality of Brazil if they were to achieve that goal.
‘Brazil presents us with an enormous challenge, but we remain dedicated to our goal of winning the World Cup,’ said the coach.
Van Marwijk, who took over at the helm when Marco van Basten stepped down after Euro 2008, said that Brazil just did not believe they could be beaten.
‘Brazil are a very mature and stable team. They convey a positive form of arrogance, that others cannot win,’ he had said on Monday.
‘We might be the underdogs against Brazil, for the first time in this World Cup,’ added van Marwijk, who numbers two spells at Feyenoord and one at Borussia Dortmund among his coaching posts.
The Dutch, winners of all four of their matches, play Brazil - who have conceded just two goals in their four matches - in Port Elizabeth.

(Agence France-Presse . Johannesburg)

Dunga worried by Kaka’s yellow

Coach Dunga admitted Kaka’s flurry of yellow cards was giving him concern as five-time world champions Brazil charged into the quarter-finals at the World Cup at Ellis Park on Monday.
The former world player of the year picked up his third booking of the tournament as Brazil eliminated Chile 3-0 in the last 16.
The Selecao eased into the last eight with well-taken goals from Juan, Luis Fabiano and Robinho and they will now face the Netherlands at Port Elizabeth on Friday.
Kaka, in his first outing back from a one-match suspension for his red card against Ivory Coast, again went into the referee’s book and laid on the final pass for Luis Fabiano’s goal before he was brought off with nine minutes left.
Kaka fell foul of English referee Howard Webb after hacking down Arturo Vidal in the 30th minute, putting him under the threat of another expulsion for his remaining time on the pitch.
Coach Dunga admitted Kaka’s run of yellow cards at the World Cup was troubling.
‘Yes, it is a problem, I don’t want Kaka to be left suspended, the technical players are punished and those who commit fouls aren’t,’ Dunga said.
‘This started in the group stage, we are going to talk to Kaka about this, we don’t want to get bogged down on the issue of yellow cards.’
The Brazilians were upset that Kaka was sent off in his last match for what they deemed a light push on the Ivorians’ Abdelkader Keita, who collapsed theatrically to the ground.
Playmaker Kaka has been slowly finding his form at the World Cup after he was dogged by a thigh injury in his first season since joining Real Madrid from AC Milan last summer.
‘If we look at Kaka, he didn’t play a 90-minute game in the last five months, we have built him up slowly, everything has been planned,’ Dunga said.
The 2007 World Player of the Year showed glimpses of his best with two crucial moments against Ivory Coast.
The Real Madrid star was largely a peripheral figure against Chile before he provided the final pass for striker Luis Fabiano’s goal in the 38th minute.
Kaka linked well with Robinho who made the run down the left and quickly released the Seville forward, who nipped past goalkeeper Claudio Bravo and side-footed into an empty net.
Brazil snapped into gear after a labouring first half-hour when Roma defender Juan leapt above the defence to powerfully head home Maicon’s corner on 34 minutes.
The Brazilians made it safe when Robinho beat Bravo for a third time with a sweet finish on 59 minutes after Ramires had swooped on a loose Chilean pass and sprinted from halfway to present Robinho with his scoring chance.
Dunga put his three star attackers, Luis Fabiano, Kaka and official man-of-the-match Robinho, in cotton wool ahead of their big quarter-final with the Dutch, bringing them all off in the final 15 minutes.

(Agence France-Presse . Johannesburg)

Training everything for Dunga

Brazil are often hailed for their outstanding technique and breathtaking individual talent but the five-times world champions are also among the leaders when it comes to preparation.
While a number of Europeans teams have looked jaded in South Africa, Brazil, who have undergone a meticulous training programme since the squad assembled in late May, still look fresh and raring to go.
In fact, coach Dunga says his biggest job is to get his players to take it easy.
‘These lads love to train and to be with the ball,’ he told reporters after his team demolished Chile 3-0 to reach the quarter-finals. ‘But we have to try and put the brakes on their enthusiasm. At this point in the competition, our main job is to make sure they relax and recover so they are fit for the next game. ‘We are slowing down the training so the players devote their energy to the games themselves.
‘Some people don’t understand that we have to slow down the rhythm of training, have a special nutrition programme, tell them to go to bed early and not stay up until late on the computer.’
‘This is a very well-planned campaign,’ he added. ‘Every aspect has been well-thought out, including the physical side and the medical side.’
Brazil have long been ahead of the pack in terms of preparation.
Back in 1958, they broke new ground by taking doctors, a dentist and a sports psychologist to the World Cup in Sweden, where they won the first of their five world titles.
At the 1970 World Cup in Mexico, Brazil seemed hardly bothered by the altitude and midday heat thanks to their preparation while eight years ago in Japan and South Korea, they looked fresh while other teams—notably Argentina and France — overdid the warm-up and looked exhausted. Dunga said one of the biggest challenges this time was to get striker Luis Fabiano and playmaker Kaka back to peak fitness after injury-plagued seasons in Spain.
‘They weren’t worn out but, on the other hand, they didn’t have any rhythm,’ he said. ‘We had to set up a tailor-made programme for them.
‘Kaka hadn’t played a full 90 minutes in the last five months, so we had to build him up to allow him to play. But we didn’t have much time, so this made it complicated.’
Dunga said he had also benefitted from a coherent selection policy with no last-minute changes.
‘This group of players has been built up over the last three years and all I have to do is look at my players or say just a few words to get the message across and they understand it immediately.
‘They’re very mature and understand what I’m trying to say. It makes my job easy.’

(Reuters . Johannesburg)

Brazil sees toughest test ahead against Dutch

Now the World Cup really begins. That’s how five-time champion Brazil feels after cruising into the quarterfinals with a 3-0 win over Chile on Monday. Coach Dunga and his players know they will truly get tested against the Netherlands on Friday.
‘We know the Netherlands are a very difficult team to play against,’ Dunga said. ‘Their football is actually very similar to South American football. They don’t try to stay defending and rely on long balls. They have technical quality and we will need to be ready for that. It’s a solid team.’
Brazil hasn’t faced many difficulties in South Africa so far.
It easily won Group G by beating North Korea 2-1, Ivory Coast 3-1 and drawing 0-0 with Portugal. It then faced a Chile side it has dominated in recent years. The Chileans didn’t pose much threat at Ellis Park, and Brazil easily advanced.
‘Now it’s a match between two traditional teams with great players,’ Brazil captain Lucio said. ‘Now the matches will get harder and harder.’
Although the Netherlands doesn’t have many titles, it has been an international force for years. It has been nearly flawless in this year’s World Cup, winning all of its matches against Denmark, Japan, Cameroon and Slovakia, the latter a 2-1 result in the second round. The Dutch are unbeaten in 23 matches.
‘It’s a world football classic,’ said Robinho, who scored his first World Cup goal in the match against Chile. ‘It’s going to be like a final.’
Defender Juan and striker Luis Fabiano also scored for Brazil in Monday’s victory, the team’s eighth in a row against the South American rival.
It will be the fourth World Cup match between Brazil and the Netherlands, and Brazil has won two of them. The Dutch won a second-round match in the 1974 tournament in Germany, but the Brazilians beat the Dutch 3-2 in the 1994 quarterfinals in the United States, and succeeded in a penalty shootout in the 1998 semifinals in France.
‘We are talking about great teams with great players,’ Brazil midfielder Kleberson said. ‘It’s going to be hard for everybody.’
In the 2006 World Cup in Germany, Brazil fell 1-0 in the quarterfinals to eventual runner-up France.
Dunga knows from experience the difficulties of facing the Dutch. The former defensive midfielder played in the 1994 quarterfinals and in the 1998 semifinals.
‘We know the Netherlands has a tradition of playing well in the World Cup,’ the coach said of a nation that was runner-up in 1974 and 1978.
The Brazilians are eager for the Dutch continue to attack in the match at Port Elizabeth, allowing space for Brazil’s attackers.
‘I hope they keep playing forward,’ Luis Fabiano said. ‘If they do that, they will run some risks and that’s going to be good for us.’
Brazil may be without some starters for Friday’s match. Midfielders Elano and Felipe Melo didn’t recover from ankle injuries in time to face the Chileans and remain doubtful.
Ramires, who replaced Felipe Melo on Monday, received his second yellow card and will not be available.

(Associated Press . Johannesburg)

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Television flatters Brazil’s 1970 team: Dunga

Brazil’s 1970 World Cup-winning team is fondly remembered as one of the best to have graced the competition but current coach Dunga says it may not have been as good as it looks in television replays.
Dunga, whose team is often criticised for a perceived lack of style, said the team featuring Pele, Rivelino and Tostao may have been flattered by television because the public only see the best bits.
‘In 1970, we didn’t have a television in my home,’ said Dunga. ‘When they show highlights from 1970, all you see are the good parts.
‘Nobody repeats 1966 because Brazil didn’t do well. From 1958, they just show the good parts, and from 1962, they also just show the good parts.
‘If we take the current Brazilian team and just show the best bits, fans will think it’s a spectacular team.
‘But today, they show as many negative moments as good ones.’
Brazilian critics often hark back to the old days, complaining that the modern team lacks the artistic touch of the sides who won the World Cup in 1958, 1962 and 1970.
Even today, Brazilian television frequently repeats the famous goal Pele scored in the 1958 final against Sweden, his near miss from the centre circle in the 1970 and the flowing move which ended with Carlos Alberto Torres slamming the ball into the net at the end of the 1970 final against Italy.
‘Another thing is that the 1970 team had four months to prepare,’ said Dunga, adding it was human nature to think things were better in the past.
‘My grandfather always told my father it was better in his day and my father told me the same,’ he said.
‘I tell my son it was better in my day and I’m sure he’ll say the same to his son.
‘It’s difficult. Back in 1958, football was just about technique. Then they added physical preparation, then they brought in tactics, then they added the pressure and the emotional side.
‘If you have a close look at the teams from the past, they committed the same mistakes as the teams of today.’
Dunga added that some people were just never satisfied.
‘The pressure gets greater and greater,’ he said.
‘We always have to win but even when we win, they are not happy because we didn’t put on a show. If we put on a show, they are not happy because we didn’t score six or seven goals.
‘If we score six or seven goals, then they say that the opposition was no good.’

(Reuters . Johannesburg)

Messi attracts fouls as Tevez takes plaudits

Carlos Tevez took man-of-the-match honours but Lionel Messi fell victim to Mexico’s rugged marking as Argentina won 3-1 to reach the World Cup quarter-finals on Sunday.
Tevez scored a brace and striker Gonzalo Higuain claimed his fourth goal of the tournament as the two-time world champions set up an enticing last-eight duel with Germany in Cape Town on Saturday.
While Tevez garnered the plaudits for his wonder strike in the 52nd minute, the world’s best player was closely marked by the Mexicans.
Messi was fouled five times over the course of the game, with Mexico skipper Rafael Marquez—Messi’s Barcelona team-mate—getting a yellow card for his special attention in the first half. Messi was largely contained well away from the Mexican goal in the opening half, except for a cheeky attempt to chip goalkeeper Oscar Perez, but it took a spark of genius to conjure the opening goal for Tevez on 26 minutes.
The Manchester City striker was set free by a stabbed pass from Messi, and when his shot was parried by Perez, Messi lobbed the ball back towards goal for Tevez to head it over the line from close range.
The Mexicans vehemently protested that Tevez was in an offside position—a view supported by replays—but Italian referee Roberto Rosetti allowed the goal to stand after conferring with his assistant for several minutes.
Retribution was swift, with Marquez going into the referee’s notebook for hacking down Messi from the restart.
Stuttgart defender Ricardo Osorio gifted Argentina their second goal seven minutes later when he gave the ball away just outside his area and Higuain pounced to round the goalkeeper and stroke home.
Tevez settled the issue seven minutes into the second half when he let fly with his right foot from outside the area, sending the ball rocketing past Perez’s despairing dive into the top-right corner.
Tevez was mobbed by team-mates as he raced towards the team dug-out and was given a long embrace by coach Diego Maradona. His spectacular night came to an end in the 69th minute when he was replaced by Juan Sebastian Veron.
Striker Javier Hernandez reduced the deficit on 71 minutes when he turned Martin Demichelis and held off Nicolas Otamendi to blast home a rising left-foot shot.

(Agence France-Presse . Johannesburg)

Monday, 28 June 2010

Chile looking to topple mighty Brazil

Agence France-Presse . Johannesburg

Chile will be out to derail Brazil’s drive towards a sixth World Cup title here today when the South American teams meet in their Round of 16 showdown.
The Chileans are at the World Cup finals for the first time since France 1998 and their negotitiation of the group phase is being celebrated by the fans back home as much as the players here.
Now, their 54-year-old coach Marcelo Bielsa is hoping the Brazilians will struggle to find the form which saw them finish the group stage unbeaten.
‘Historically, they are a team to fear,’ says Bielsa, after the Brazilians put four goals past the Chileans in their previous meetings in 1962 and 1998 to advance.
Bielsa suggests that today’s Dunga-coached squad is no less dangerous than its forebears after they beat North Korea and the Ivory Coast, but drew with Portugal in Group G.
‘This latest version retains all the creative footballing aspects of this country (Brazil) - to which they have added aggression and forcefulness.’
But he added that the Chileans, who pushed Brazil all the way in the 18-match regional qualifying programme to reach their first finals since 1998, were determined to pull off a shock and reach the last eight.
‘We will do the impossible to ensure that things don’t come to an end too soon for us,’ he insisted.
Ten-man Chile had a bitter-sweet night on Friday as they qualified for the last 16 despite suffering a 2-1 defeat to Spain and will need to pull off the biggest shock of the World Cup so far if they are to beat Brazil.
‘We couldn’t be more motivated for the game
against Brazil,’ forward Jean Beausejour told after midfielder Marco Estrada was sent off against Spain.
Midfielder Rodrigo Miller, who score Chile’s consolation goal, said it means a lot to the fans as they bid to topple the world’s highest-ranked side.
‘We know we’re making the people in Chile happy with what we’re doing here,’ said a grinning Millar, whose side are currently ranked 18th in the world. In contrast, Brazil coach Dunga has yet to grin a smile of satisfaction after any of his side’s three performances here so far even though the South American giants are undefeated.
Convincing wins over North Korea and the Ivory Coast were followed by an uninspiring goalless draw with Portugal on Friday which Dunga spent in an agitated state gesticulating wildly and berating his players.
Dunga will welcome back midfield pair Kaka and Elano for Monday’s match at Johannesburg’s Soccer City. Kaka served a one-match ban after being sent off against the Ivory Coast while Elano was ruled out through injury.
Brazilian goalkeeper Julio Cesar believes it will be a difficult test against Chile, but says his side have to keep improving.
‘Now a new and more complicated stage in the competition begins
and I am certain that Brazil will be ready,’ he said.
‘We have done what we expected to do so far and now we have to focus one game at a time and continue to improve game by game.’ The return of Kaka and Elano will boost Brazil, says Inter Milan’s Cesar.
‘They are both crucial players for us and it will be good to have them back in the team for our next game,’ said the Inter Milan player.

Sunday, 27 June 2010


3: Higuain (ARG), Villa (ESP), Vittek (SVK)
2: Donovan (USA), Elano (BRA), Eto’o (CMR), Forlan (URU), Gyan (GHA), Holman (AUS), Honda (JPN), Lee Jung-soo (KOR), Luis Fabiano (BRA), Tiago (POR), Uche (NGR) 1: Alcaraz (PAR), Almeida (POR), Beausejour (CHI), Bendtner (DEN), Birsa (SLO), Blanco (MEX), Bradley (USA), Cacau (GER), Cahill (AUS), Cristiano Ronaldo (POR), De Rossi (ITA), Defoe (ENG), Demichelis (ARG), Dempsey (USA), Di Natale (ITA), Drogba (CIV), Endo (JPN), Gelson (SWI), Gerrard (ENG), Gonzalez (CHI), Heinze (ARG), Hernandez (MEX), Huntelaar (NED), Iaquinta (ITA), Iniesta (ESP), Ji Yun-nam (PRK), Jovanovic (SRB), Kalou (CIV), Khumalo (RSA), Klose (GER), Kopznek (SVK), Koren (SLO), Kuyt (NED), Lee Chung-yong (KOR), Liedson (POR), Ljubijankic (SLO), Maicon (BRA), Malouda (FRA), Marquez (MEX), Millar (CHI), Mphela (RSA), Mrller (GER), Okazaki (JPN), Ozil (GER), Palermo (ARG), Pantelic (SRB), Park Chu-young (KOR), Park Ji-sung (KOR), A. Pereira (URU), Podolski (GER), Quagliarella (ITA), Raul Meireles (POR), Reid (NZL), Riveros (PAR), Romaric (CIV), Rommedahl (DEN), Salpingidis (GRE), Simao (POR), Smeltz (NZL), Sneijder (NED), Suarez (URU), Tomasson (DEN), Torosidis (GRE), Toure (CIV), Tshabalala (RSA), van Persie (NED), Vera (PAR), Yakubu (NGR)

Mexico VS Argentina and Germany VS Engalnd

Mexico seeks revenge vs. Argentina
Germany, England ignore hype over WC meeting

Germany and England go head to head for a place in the World Cup quarterfinals on Sunday, both trying to ignore the hype that always surrounds their soccer matches, reports AP.
Both sets of players are concentrating fully on the second-round game in Bloemfontein rather than the history of one of the sport’s greatest rivalries.
Since England’s contentious 4-2 extra-time win over Germany in the 1966 World Cup final, Germany has won five of the 11 major tournament finals it has reached. England can count only semifinal appearances in the 1990 World Cup and 1996 European Championship, and lost both in shootouts to Germany.
“This is year 2010 and these games will not mean very much,” Germany captain Philipp Lahm said. “We were not born then.”
England goalkeeper David James said his teammates have enough to think about as they prepare for a team that dismantled Australia 4-0, stumbled against Serbia, then beat Ghana.
“There will be a lot of external references and historical references, but for us it’s a game against a decent outfit and we have to win to progress,” James said.
The teams have not met at a major tournament for a decade but Loew said his team knows exactly what to expect.
“England is always England. It’s team with a lot of fighting spirit and very strong mentally, with incredible experience,” Loew said. “The axis with John Terry, Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard and Wayne Rooney has the highest quality you can find in European football.”
Rooney should have recovered from an ankle problem that forced his second-half substitution against Slovenia.
Germany’s biggest injury worry is Bastian Schweinsteiger, who hurt is right thigh in the 1-0 win over Ghana. Schweinsteiger carried more midfield responsibility in this tournament due to the absence of injured regular captain Michael Ballack.
Loew said there was a “very big question mark” on the midfielder for Sunday’s game.
Forward Cacau will miss the match after pulling an abdominal muscle in practice. Defender Jerome Boateng is also likely to miss the game because of a calf injury, but striker Miroslav Klose is available after sitting out the Ghana match with suspension.
The other game Sunday has Argentina, winner of Group B with three victories, against Group A runner-up Mexico at Johannesburg.
England has not lived up to its pre-tournament hype so far, laboring to draws against the United States and Algeria before edging unheralded Slovenia 1-0 to squeeze into the next round. Coach Fabio Capello said the Slovenia win rekindled the spirit of the impressive qualifying series and believes the English have no reason to fear any team, even one against which they have such a checkered history.
“When people look at what’s happened over the years, all you remember is losing to Germany on penalties, but this is a different game and a different team,” said striker Jermain Defoe, who scored against Slovenia. “It’s about having a clear head. Forget about what happened before and focus.”
While Germany has not missed a penalty kick in a World Cup shootout since Uli Stielike’s saved shot against France in 1982, England has consistently failed in shootouts at major tournaments. Besides the two losses to Germany, England also lost to Argentina and twice to Portugal on spot kicks.
Mexico will get the chance to erase a grudge nursed for four years when it meets Argentina at Soccer City.
At the 2006 World Cup, Argentina beat Mexico thanks to an extraordinary goal by Maxi Rodriguez in the round of 16. Now, they are together again.
“I have a thorn in my side from four years ago and hopefully on Sunday we can take it out,” said midfielder Rafael Marquez, who scored Mexico’s goal in that 2-1 defeat in 2006.
But the challenge looks formidable against Diego Maradona’s attack-minded team, which everyone seems to want to avoid this time around.
And it’s not just the prolific strike force of Lionel Messi, Gonzalo Higuain and Carlos Tevez that the Mexicans will need to contain in Pretoria. Playing in midfield will be that man Maxi, who’d settle for any winner on Sunday rather than a repeat of his 2006 wonder goal.
“I’ll be happy if I can just tap it in,” he said Friday. “What happened in that game is history now. The important thing is that the team wins and progresses.”
The two teams have played each other 25 times, and the Mexicans have only won four.
But Mexico, so shaky to start qualifying before recovering to play well, turned it on when it counted in South Africa, beating 2006 runner-up France 2-0.
Argentina, capable of scoring goals from all over the field, is expecting Javier Aguirre’s team to be solid on defense and not take too many risks.
“Aguirre is a very intelligent coach,” Maxi said Friday. “I don’t think they’ll come out attacking us right away. They’ll almost certainly wait to hit us on the counter.”