England have a reputation for playing in a physical manner, but
the USA take that to a whole new level and Fabio Capello's side must be braced
for a robust approach.
The USA have always been an
incredibly brutal side, and England are in for a fierce battle: the players
must be ready to give and take a hefty amount of contact.
One thing Bob Bradley's side will not care about is yellow cards,
and you can expect a stack load of cautions if the US play in the way I
anticipate that they will.
It will be a question of how England deal with their opponents'
uncompromising approach and it is no place for short tempers or spur of the
The USA have nothing to lose, and a draw for them would be the
stuff of dreams: I would imagine they will do just about anything to ensure
that they achieve that.
Now to the big decisions, and I am absolutely convinced as to the
way Capello should go with his starting line-up.
There is no doubt that Joe Hart should get the nod as the England
goalkeeper: David James is a liability and has always been.
Hart has enjoyed a consistently superb season, and the Manchester
City keeper has the confidence and assurance to be the number one on the very biggest
James is a fine shot-stopper, but you just know that over the
course of the tournament he would make a string of blunders which would
undermine England's campaign.
Moving on to the midfield, and I am not happy with Steven Gerrard
partnering Frank Lampard in the middle: who is going to do the defensive work?
It is fine to play a wildcard like Joe Cole, but you cannot have
two attack-minded midfielders alongside him and something has got to give.
It would be naive to think that by continuing to play Lampard and
Gerrard, the pair will eventually just suddenly click.
On the right of midfield, Capello simply has to pick Aaron Lennon
instead of Shaun Wright-Phillips.
Lennon's searing pace and agility is just what is required with
none of the other three midfielders offering much in that department.
Wright-Phillips has rightly been lamented for the lack of 'end
product' he conjures up in the final third, and Lennon has considerably more
conviction at the byline.
In attack, there is no doubt that Emile Heskey is the most
suitable partner for Wayne Rooney, and I do not care how good Peter Crouch's
strike rate is.
Rooney is the man that has the potential to win this World Cup for
England, and Capello's job is to ensure that the Manchester United forward is
given every assistance in doing so.