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England-Algeria preview notes

Thursday, June 17, 2010
Jun 17
4:47
PM ET

Posted by ESPN Stats & Information

England versus Algeria, Friday
Green Point Stadium -- Cape Town

Storylines

• "The Hand of Clod Bowl": England and Algeria try to regroup after goalkeeping errors cost them points in their opening games. Robert Green's error gifted the U.S. its goal in the 1-1 tie, and Faouzi Chaouchi's error gave Slovenia a 1-0 win.

• Will Green start for England? The goalkeeper didn't duck the media after the U.S. game and received the backing of his teammates. The English tabloids, however, were merciless in their criticism of Green, coach Fabio Capello and the entire team. Capello has been supportive of Green but hasn't yet said who will start -- the other options being David James and Joe Hart.

• England has never lost against an African team at the World Cup: 11 wins and four draws.

• Under Fabio Capello, England's lack of clean sheets has been a persistent problem. A comparison with other recent England managers:

Glenn Hoddle: 28 games, 19 clean sheets (67.9 percent)
Steve McClaren: 18 games, 11 clean sheets (61.1 percent)
Kevin Keegan: 18 games, 7 clean sheets (38.9 percent)
Sven-Goran Eriksson: 67 games, 26 clean sheets (38.88 percent)
Fabio Capello: 25 games, 7 clean sheets (28.0 percent)

Series history

• First meeting.

What to look for

• Gareth Barry is back in the lineup. England's defensive midfield anchor missed the U.S. game due to an ankle injury, but is expected to start.

• Wayne Rooney was subdued by Jay DeMerit in the U.S. game (he didn't touch the ball in the box until the 70th minute), so England needs its biggest star to get on track against Algeria. It is six matches in total since Rooney scored in an official game for England, his longest drought since November 2005.

• The man England will have to look out for is left winger Nadir Belhadj, who plies his trade with recently relegated Portsmouth. The midfielder had the most touches against Slovenia and created more chances than any of his teammates. That Algeria heavily relies on Belhadj to create chances is shown by the fact that 43.8 percent of the North Africans' attacks came down the winger's left side.

• Algeria knows England's goalkeeping issues could work in its favor. "We certainly wouldn't mind if it happened again," Algeria captain Antar Yahia told The Guardian. "We know what happened and how it might affect them. Football's not an exact science, you know. England have great individuals, big players, but as we saw on Saturday the team is perhaps not yet in top gear. It's going to be hard for us but England weren't quite on their game against the USA."

From the research room

• England has also lost only one of its past 15 World Cup group stage matches, keeping 10 clean sheets.

• Green allowed 10 goals from outside the penalty area during the 2009-2010 EPL season, to tie for the most in the league (Green was tied with Tim Howard).

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