Easy for England? That’s not how they all see it
World Cup: How USA, Algeria and Slovenia reacted to being drawn with England in Group C
Sunday's Los Angeles Times gave prominence to the "scurrilous" front page of Saturday's Sun which, following the 2010 World Cup draw in South Africa the previous day, described England's chances in Group C like this:
"For the less perceptive," explained the paper, "the first letter of each word was printed in red ink, as follows: E-A-S-Y." The LA Times carried quotes from several people, however, who disagreed with the British tabloid's assessment of Group C.
Alexi Lalas, who won 96 caps for the USA in the 1990s, said: "England always thinks they are better than they are", while former Slovenia and Porto star Zlatko Zahovic was delighted with the draw, saying: "England are not one of the favourites. They are a team full of stars and egos. They cannot possibly spend a month and a half together without friction."
Friction is something USA star Landon Donovan and England's David Beckham know all about. The pair play together for Los Angeles Galaxy in the American MLS and earlier in the year newspapers on both sides of the Atlantic carried comments from Donovan criticising his English teammate for a perceived lack of commitment to the cause.
The dispute seems to be forgotten now and Donovan told the Washington Post that the prospect of playing England and possibly Beckham "is going to be a lot of fun".
"They [England] are physical, and big and they are used to playing a game at a very high pace," added Donovan, "so that kind of game is going to favour them... the good thing is we have a lot of guys who have played in Europe [professionally] for a while and played in high-level games like that and we can match it."
Similarly, the Algerians don't seem too unhappy with their fate. Captain Yazid Mansouri, who plays for Lorient in the French first division, told Le Parisien: "England are going to be tough but the draw's not too bad. It gives us everything to play for. Without wishing to sound disrespectful, we have nothing to fear from either Slovenia or the USA."
But amid all the platitudes, there was one ominous note sounded from the lips of Slovenia defender Bostjan Cesar. Recalling his side's 2-1 defeat to England in a friendly at Wembley in September, Cesar warned Fabio Capello's men that he and his teammates will be out for revenge next summer.
In particular Cesar has a score to settle with Wayne Rooney after the Manchester United striker felled the Slovenia with a brutal challenge. "All Europe knows what Rooney did," said Cesar. "He deliberately tried to injure me. It's not sportsmanlike. I have a clear conscience but I doubt he has one. We'll give our all to make the England game an unpleasant experience for Rooney and his teammates."
The last word belongs to the LA Times, clearly rankled by the Sun's typically bullish front page. "If Beckham goes to South Africa and plays, he would become only the 17th player in history to appear in four World Cups," the paper informed its readers, before adding: "But his hair is still ridiculous." ·
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