What: FIFA 2010 World Cup
Who: Slovenia vs England (Group C)
When: Wednesday 23rd June, 2010, at 15:00 UK Time
Where: Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth, South Africa

Win or Go Home

Although Fabio Capello is confident he is “strong enough to deal with [the pressure]" of being in a must win situation against Slovenia, the England coach will be uncertain whether his players will be the same. After two lethargic performances against the United States and Algeria, which resulted in two dull draws, the Three Lions are looking out of place on football’s biggest stage. The usually outstanding likes of Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard and even Wayne Rooney have been reduced to average mediocre players, making it easy to wonder where the team that dominated their qualfication group went.

In order to restore their supporters’ faith, England need to make the knockout stages and ultimately give themselves a chance of progressing to the final. The only hurdle that stands In the Three Lions’ way is a Slovenia side that only needs to hold on for a point in order to reach the next round. This match will certainly be a perfect test for England to show just how prepared they are to handle the rigours of challenging for a World Cup.

Need to Push Forward

Slovenia are in the driving seat going into their last group game against England. With four points already in Group C, Matjaz Kek’s side only need a draw in order to reach the knockout stage. Despite their advantageous position, the Slovenians will have to remember to maximise their threat going forward, as they have shown they are most effective when on the attack. Having breached the backlines of Algeria and the United States more times than England could, Slovenia are certainly capable of not only holding on for a draw, but sending the Three Lions home with their tails between their legs.

They are wary of the threat England possess, but are not shy about their chances of snatching a win, with star player Valter Birsa saying, “England are the most difficult team in this group, but you have seen already at this World Cup that the small teams can win against the big teams, so we know we have a possibility."

Recent form

Slovenia 3-1 New Zealand (04/06; Friendly)
Algeria 0-1 Slovenia (13/06; Friendly)
Slovenia 2-2 United States (18/06; World Cup – Group C)

England 3-0 Platinum Stars (07/06; Friendly)
England 1-1 United States (12/06; Friendly)
England 0-0 Algeria (18/06; World Cup – Group C))

Players to watch

Slovenia – Robert Koren: The 29-year-old midfielder, who English club West Bromwich Albion decided to release before the World Cup, is going to be key if Slovenia want to exploit the slumping England midfield. His ability to dictate and break up play will be vital in order to ensure the Three Lions don’t rediscover their rhythm.

England – Wayne Rooney: The frustrated talismanic striker is on the brink of implosion after England’s disappointment against Algeria, ranting to a camera as he walked off the pitch, "it’s nice when your own fans boo you!". Rooney’s discontent could either mean an inspired performance or an absolutely destructive one – either way he will influence the game massively.

Match prediction

With their backs to the wall, England will have to step up to deal with the pressure or wilt under it. Having lost the battle to handle the weight of expectation in their last two matches, the Three Lions will need some much needed inspiration to win this game. Recent form points to Slovenia holding on 1-1.

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