Preview: England v USA
11 Jun 2010 - 11:22:12
England get their World Cup adventure underway with a potentially tricky test against the USA in Rustenburg on Saturday evening.
With a capacity of just 38,646, the Royal Bafokeng Stadium is likely to be swarming with Three Lions fans as they descend on South Africa dreaming of a first world title since 1966.
However, before the dreams must come the reality and it is Bob Bradley's America side that stand in the way of a whirlwind start to proceedings.
Fabio Capello may have endured some early South African gloom when he lost talismanic captain Rio Ferdinand to a training ground knee injury but, with Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, John Terry, Wayne Rooney ad co ready to step up to the plate, the squad has enough quality to get off to a winning start.
Although England and the USA may be friends in political circles, the two nations will lock horns and go into battle this time around with a precious three points on offer.
This clash sees the two Group C favourites go head-to-head and they will understand the importance of getting off to a solid start with upcoming fixtures against Algeria and Slovenia to look forward to.
If any of the World Cup underdogs have the ability to match England then it has to be the ever-improving US.
With probable starters Tim Howard, Jonathan Spector, Carlos Bocanegra, Oguchi Onyewu, Clint Dempsey, Landon Donovan and Stuart Holden all currently or previously experiencing Premier League football, they will have gained a favourable understanding of how England will shape up.
Former Hull City loanee Jozy Altidore will also be staking his claim for a place in attack and the American Dream will also be in force.
England warmed up for the opener in decent fashion with a comfortable 3-1 win over Mexico at Wembley before grinding out a 2-1 success against Japan in Austria.
This was followed by a 3-0 practice run-out victory against South African side Platinum Stars and, with a newly-forged winning mentality under Capello, the Italian will accept no other outcome on Saturday.
In their warm-up matches, the USA beat Australia 3-1 in Roodepoort with LA Galaxy striker Edson Buddle at the double and, on May 29, they came from behind to beat Turkey 2-1, with second-half efforts from Altidore and Dempsey proving the trick.
Although Altidore is expected to be fit for the clash, he is being monitored on a day-to-day basis after he suffered a mild right ankle sprain while Capello will be without the services of Gareth Barry who is recovering from his own ankle problem.
Midfielder James Milner has missed a couple of training sessions in the lead-up to the weekend through illness and is a doubt.
The most recent meeting between the teams came on May 28 2008 at the new Wembley Stadium.
Goals either side of the break from John Terry and Steven Gerrard earned England the win in a largely uninspiring contest but the highest-profile game between the two nations came in the World Cup finals in Brazil in 1950.
During the group stage, a dominant England failed to take their chances and a single headed effort from Joe Gaetjens secured a shock 1-0 win for America in Belo Horizonte and they will be hoping for another miracle some 60 years on.