To their credit, the English are human beings. Smile at one and one may smile back at you. Or not. Just like the rest of us.
Fabio Capello, coach of England, is not a smiler. He’s more of a scowler. He is also one of the most successful coaches in the history of soccer. From the Invincibles at Milan to the incredible Juventus side, from turning Roma into champions, to twice winning the Spanish title with Real Madrid, every project he has undertaken has resulted in bringing home major silverware. More than players, the man from Northern Italy is England’s greatest asset.
For his part, Capello’s U.S. colleague, Bob Bradley, is in need of a good World Cup showing in order to quiet his critics. Bradley took the helm in January 2007 and has a 34-16-6 record including the victory over the number two team in the world, Spain.
Coach Bradley has a team that is knows how to stay compact and when they hustle and scrap they can beat anyone, despite having a team with few names Euro-fans would recognize.
Soccer is a game of creating opportunities and the U.S. struggles to generate goal-scoring chances. At the highest level, we’re talking about players who can do something like this.
The U.S. Big Men
Landon Donovan is vital to the team’s offense and in his stint with the English team, Everton, the 27-year-old showed he has what it takes to play at the highest level. Donovan, along with Clint Dempsey, are the two players who can create chances on the fly.
Tim Howard is a monster in goal. He plays for the Everton and is one of the best goalkeepers in the English Premier League. He shows up for big games and will need to continue to make game-saving stops if the U.S. is to move to advance.
With the U.S.' best defender Oguchi Onyewu recovering from a knee injury and a possible for the World Cup, fellow defender Carlos Bocanegra will be an essential part of shutting down England’s Wayne Rooney.
As with the U.S., tactics. Capello gets the best out of his best, and as they showed in their outstanding qualification run, they do not get caught on the counter-attack, the press for the ball constantly, and they do not suffer mental lapses.
Also similar to the U.S., England has not been able to create moments of creative magic when they are needed and they have minor weaknesses in every area which become apparent when playing against the best.
Main Men for England
Wayne Rooney is the modern striker: compact, highly skilled, boundless energy, fighting determination and a finishing touch, the English team is built around feeding Rooney. Watch the punishing, end-to-end runs Rooney will make on the break.
Steven Gerrard has been giving a free role in midfield and has responded with relentless and attacking play.
John Terry had a season of self-created distractions and was shown to be the crude but usually well-placed defender he has always been. With first-pick Rio Ferdinand out with injuries and fellow defender Ashley Cole on the squad but recovering from a long injury-induced lay-off, defensive responsibilities rest on Terry’s shoulders.