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England 1 Paraguay 0

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The day is almost upon us. After all the press about Sven’s adventurous squad, Rooney’s metatarsal and the holding midfield player dilemma, the English now have World Cup football matches to talk about. This Saturday sees a Rooney-less England face Paraguay in the opening match of the World Cup.

How did both teams qualify?

For some bizarre reason English journalists give their team very harsh treatment. If you’d picked up a newspaper at various times during the qualifying period you would have read about David James being a donkey, Sven’s dreadful judgement in trying a formation which works so effectively for Barcelona and Chelsea, and England suffering their most embarrassing defeat for decades. Lets not forget though, England qualified from their group with a game to spare and ended up group winners. How many other major European nations qualified so comfortably?

Paraguay finished fourth in the South American qualifying region behind Brazil, Argentina and Ecuador but ahead of some fairly well established South American nations such as Uruguay, Chile and Colombia. Their very own Jose Cardozo finished in joint second place in the scoring charts for the South American World Cup qualifying zone with seven goals.

With Sven now deciding he is a tinker man, what sort of team can we expect him to put out?

After Crouch’s hat-trick in the 6-0 demolition of Jamaica Eriksson declared that he would start this match. Many people are therefore expecting the same team that started against Jamaica but with the fit again Neville in for Carragher at right back. However, Gerrard has a back injury and only has a 50% chance of playing on Saturday. If Gerrard doesn’t play, I would expect Lampard to partner a holding midfielder in central midfield. Who that holding player is though is anyone’s guess. Sven doesn’t seem to know who he prefers in that role out of Carragher, Hargreaves and Carrick.

Is everyone underestimating Paraguay?

Perhaps. They have got many players plying their trade in Europe - Dos Santos and Santa Cruz at Bayern Munich, Valdez at Werder Bremen, Paredes at Reggina, Toledo at Real Zaragoza and Acuna at Deportivo La Coruna. They have also reached the second round in both of the previous two World Cups, why can’t they do it again? Furthermore, fans of Football Manager will be looking forward to seeing Edgar Barreto be the star of the tournament…

Betting odds (from PaddyPower)

England 4-7

Paraguay 5-1

Draw 5-2

My prediction

England 2-0 Paraguay

Sorry about the short length. I'll do a better one in the knockout stages once my exams are over.

Edited by all you need is duff
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My only fear for getting through the first round is if we mess up here and then go out on goal difference for not stuffing T&T by enough goals. I think we should win 2-0 though but they will be tough and hard to break down and also will be quite skillful.

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And did those feet in ancient time

Walk upon England's mountains green?

And was the holy Lamb of God

On England's pleasant pastures seen?

And did the Countenance Divine

Shine forth upon our clouded hills?

And was Jerusalem builded here

Among these dark Satanic Mills?

Bring me my Bow of burning gold:

Bring me my Arrows of desire:

Bring me my Spear! O clouds unfold!

Bring me my Chariot of fire.

I will not cease from Mental Fight,

Nor shall my Sword sleep in my hand

Till we have built Jerusalem

In England's green and pleasant land.

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Look out for young Montiel if he comes on for Paraguay, now there's an exciting youngster. Have faith in England for this one, think they will beat a physically quite weak Paraguay (Frode Johnsen scored two against them for crying out loud!) , even though their attacking line can be very intimidating.

3-1, Crouch to score two and one from Gerrard. Valdez or Santa Cruz to score for Paraguay.

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Half time, 1-0 to England.

What do people think?

Joe Cole the stand out for me.

Why does Crouch need to back into the defender?

I feel that if England play the ball on the ground and work it up front they'll be more effective than lumping it high. They've got the skills, just do it.

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What stands out for me is the poor commentary ("Owen must be injured" etc, etc")

Blindingly obvious it was tactical. 1-0 up against a poor team - why not save your striker playing in 30 degree heat? Not that i agree with the decision, but when hargreavescomes on in a minute, hopefully we shall see an improvement. Impressed by downing at any rate.

oh, and slick gonzales must have gone to the d'urso school of refereeing...

Edited by ffberryb77
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