It has been 44 years since England won their first and only World Cup. For the passionate English fans, that is way too long. If any English team since their last World Cup has had a chance to win the tournament, it's this one. Loaded with star power and an Italian master-mind coach, this years English squad might just have what it takes to repeat the success of 1966.
Italian coach Fabio Capello will lead the Three Lions into their 13th World Cup. The English have advanced to the knockout stage in 10 of those 12 tournaments, having won in 1966, reached the semi-finals in 1990, and have multiple quarter-final appearances.
Capello, the former manager of Real Madrid, Roma, and Juventus, has brought the English a long way since former coach Steve McClaren failed to qualify the English side for Euro 2008. The players from the team that failed to qualify for Euro 2008, for the most part make up the World Cup squad, but their attitude has been changed.
The Italian skipper has demanded respect and made sure his players carry themselves with a certain swagger. Capello came in and made it known that no one's spot was secure and everyone would have to work for a spot on the team. Mobile phones were banned from team meals and the tranning grounds and blazers became everyday attire.
Capello's discipline was part of the equation that led to England breezing through qualification, and looked to be one of the strongest European sides; however, the star studded roster doesn't hurt.
Rooney, Gerrard, Lampard, Cole, Terry and the list goes on. The roster contains so many players that are star players for their club teams, all of which happen to be some of the best teams in Europe.
Despite the great depth, it is clear Capello has built his team around Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney. Rooney has held a lot of responsibility for the Red Devils after the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo last season and will have to play a similar role with England. Rooneys play as a striker/attacking mid will be crucial for his team's success.
The absence of David Beckham is to be noted, however his spot at outside mid will be stacked anyways, with Gerrard and Tottenham's Aaron Lennon expected to be the starters.
The English will be one of the deepest teams in the tournament and will have a team made up almost entirely of players from the English Premier League.
The starting keeper position is still up for grabs; however, it appears Portsouth's David James is the slight favorite, ahead of West Ham's Robert Green.
Fabio Capello is happy with the draw his team got. "The draw is not so bad," said Capello. "We've played the US and Slovenia at home,played well, and won. The USA are strong physically and technically they are good enough. Algeria beat Egypt and they have a really good team now."
England will surely be one of the favorites to win the tournament in South Africa. If the Three Lions want to bring the cup back to England, they might want to stay away from Portugal and practice their kicks from the spot. The English have been ousted from their last two international competitions (World Cup 2006, Euro 2004), by the Portugese in penalties, not to mention have been knocked out of the last three out of four World Cup appearances by penalty kicks.
This Italian mastermind coach has all of the pieces to the puzzle, a stacked roster combined with a team that is well discplined. Capello has done a lot to turn this team around and a World Cup would justify all the hard work.
One of the best strikers in the world, Rooney is only 24 and already has 57 caps and 25 goals for the English side. Wayne will play a central forward/attacking mid role in a 4-2-3-1 and loves to get the two midfielders behind him, Lampard and Barry involved in the attack along with Lennon and Gerrard.
Terry and Rio Ferdinand will be the center backs in one of the best defensive line ups in the tournament. Terry is one of the best defenders in the world, and the defense will have to on its game with an inexperianced keeper.
Gerrard starting at the left mid creates a huge tactical problem for opposing teams. Gerrard is a huge scoring threat from that position and will cause a miss match and will have defenders confused.
Another sniper in the midfield, Lampard just makes this attack even more dynamic. Fabio Capello ignored the theory that Gerrard and Lampard could never be incorporated into the same midfield and Lampard's prescence in the line up makes England's attack scary.
2010 World Cup Schedule:
England vs. USA, Rustenburg, South Africa, June 12th
England vs. Algeria, Cape Town, South Africa, June 18th
England vs. Slovenia, Port Elizabeth, South Africa, June 23rd