The Cup Running Over

June 19, 2010 6:03 AM

England-Algeria Review: Football Isn't Coming Home, It May Be Going Home

The favorable interpretation of England's performance so far -- if there can be such a thing -- is to assume that Fabio Cappello has England playing Italian football. Stumble your way through the first round, barely emerge from the group, and remain committed to cattenachio -- meaning the most important thing is never to concede.

The problem is that even the Italians would make short shrift of a group so weak. And now England -- which has not scored in 176 minutes as Wayne Rooney has disappeared -- sits one game away from elimination.

It could be that the English are simply burned out. (England "performs like lions in the fall and lambs in the spring," UEFA president Michel Plantini once said.) And to be fair, Algeria is a much better defensive squad than some expected. Les Fennecs are a team composed primarily of French immigrants who have returned to Algeria to play for the home country -- which is why this team plays like a kind of France, Jr. Tough on defense but virtually no offense to speak of.

Both teams now go into the next game with a chance to go into the next round. We said going in that if England couldn't beat Algeria, its situation was dire. And so it is.

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