FABIO CAPELLO will warn his England players not to be complacent about their easy-looking World Cup because he knows from bitter experience the perils of underestimating opponents.
England were drawn in Group C with the USA, Slovenia and Algeria – in stark contrast to Brazil who will have to face Portugal, the Ivory Coast and North Korea.
Capello accepted that there are tougher groups than England’s but recalled Italy’s disastrous 1974 campaign in which he played, when the Azzurri went out from a group they were expected to dominate.
Capello said: “There are other groups that are stronger than ours but I remember when I was a player, in Germany in 1974, sometimes you can think the group is easy and it will not be so.
“That is what I will tell the players – because psychologically the games you have to play in a World Cup are different to other games. I know from my experience as a player that when you play here the pressure is different and the mentality is different.”
The USA do have proven pedigree having reached the final of the Confederations Cup in South Africa earlier this year, beating Spain on the way, a game which Capello was at.
He added: “The USA are strong physically and technically they are good enough. I saw the game against Spain when they won and it will be no easy game.”
Slovenia were beaten 2-1 at Wembley in September but they are no pushover – something they proved by seeing off Russia in the play-offs.
Capello said: “I suffered in the second half when we played against Slovenia in September. They are technically good, a lot of passes and imagination.
“There will be no easy games – Algeria will also be confident after their exploits against Egypt when they played very well.’’
Capello also revealed England are likely to face Egypt in a friendly on March 3 as preparation for facing Algeria.
“I think it’s a nice choice to know the style of these north African players,” he said.
England will open their campaign against the USA on the evening of Saturday June 12, just down the road from their training base in Rustenburg. The next two games will involve some serious travelling for England fans, with Algeria almost 1,000 miles away in Cape Town on Friday June 18 and then Slovenia in Port Elizabeth on Wednesday June 23.
Should England win the group then they will get to play in Rustenburg again in the last 16, against the runners-up of Group D, where Germany, Australia, Serbia and Ghana are in contention. Beyond that, predictions are increasingly fragile but France would loom as possible quarter-final opponents if they win their group, and Brazil or Holland in the semis if they do the same and progress to the latter stages.
England skipper John Terry watched the draw in Chelsea’s team hotel with Frank Lampard, Joe Cole and Ashley Cole and said it is vital they come out of blocks fast against the USA.
He said: “It’s obviously very exciting with some great fixtures. As far as England are concerned we are familiar with two of our opponents – USA and Slovenia – and know their players well. Hopefully this will help us prepare for those games.
“England have never played Algeria and of course they got through to the finals with a play-off victory over Egypt.
“But for me, it’s all about that first game and getting off to a good start. Every team’s opening group match is important and we’re no different – it’s a big game.”
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