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Monday, June 05, 2006

"England can end the millennium as it started - as the greatest football nation in the world."

England, England. A brief trip has left TDH with assorted insights now to be inflicted upon you, loyal readers.

First, Sven is missing a formation. He's got a 4-1-3-1-1 in which he will hopefully have learned to use Carrick instead of Carragher as a holding player. He's got a 4-4-2 with Fat Frank and Stevie G in the center. But he needs to have another think about that diamond. The (other) tall man from Merseyside was all asea against Jamaica, and it would be better to see a more dedicated holding player dropping behind Frank Jr.

Based on recent form, TDH would also say that it's not obvious that Lampard the Younger should be the starter. Perhaps TDH would leave him in for the group stage. But in a big knockout game, the Kop hero clearly performs on another level entirely, capable of single-handedly turning a motley bunch of day-laborers into a cup-winning side.

England faces a friendly draw, assuming they can finish top of their group. A result against Sweden is clearly the essential ingredient. The Swedes will be organized, and they have obvious striking power. But England can hit them on the counter. Look for Downing and Lennon to come on in the 60th minute if Sven needs a goal.

After the group stage will likely come Poland or Ecuador - realistically, no trouble for England. The quarter-final will be, in declining order of likelihood: the Netherlands, Argentina, Portugal or Mexico. All of those teams are beatable.

In fact, TDH can't understand why English pundits are so high on Argentina. Anyone who's seen them play lately will know that the back half of the midfield is completely disorganized, the defense is nothing special, and the keepers are suspect. Argentina have some of the most gifted strikers in the game, but they'll need to score plenty to make up for their deficiencies at the back. TDH would almost be tempted to play three strikers against them - another missing formation, Sven?

Finally, there are some things that are just too English for words. Witness, loyal readers, the Peperami Fanimal. If you don't know what a Peperami is, don't worry. The Fanimal is absurd enough to have its own reputation. Where the more reserved England fan fears to open his mouth, the Peperami supplies the guff transplant. Thank goodness for that.


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