A ray of light amongst the gloom

England played out a dire and utterly boring 0-0 draw last Friday night with Algeria in their second group game in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. As an England fan, the most disappointing aspect of the game was the lack of spirit and passion that the players seemed devoid of during the entire ninety or so minutes. Although I had issues with the formation (4-4-2) and the style of play (long balls thrust forward to Emile Heskey), it was the lack of ‘oomph’ from the players which vexed me (and many other England fans judging from the boos at the end of the match) most. It was something that worried me, too, as form can often be regained whereas a lack of passion maybe much harder to find once it is seemingly lost.

However, as much as I love football, I also like to follow many other sports and so on Saturday morning I watched the England rugby union team play Australia in the second match of their two game series in Sydney. Now, as frustrating as the England team may be to watch sometimes, the England rugby union team have been an even more frustrating prospect to endure since they won the World Cup in 2003.  The team have rarely won, and even when they have they have played in such a muddled way as to leave you tearing your hair out by the end of the the game!

But, despite another disappointing performance last week, last Saturday the England rugby team suddenly, finally, fired into life and what I witnessed was not just a much improved performance but a great result, too! In comparison to their footballing counterparts last Friday, the rugby team played with skill, guile and intelligence, as well as passion and spirit.

So perhaps this rubbed off on the football team because on Wednesday England played with much, MUCH more spirit and passion, and although it was only Slovenia, they dominated the match and went on to win the match 1-0 and through to the round of 16. But it seems as though England’s poor play in the run up to Wednesday’s game has cost them as they finished second in the group and will play one of their nemeses, Germany, on Sunday afternoon.

It will be a nervy, tense, yet strangely exciting encounter when England play Germany. After such a slow start to the tournament, there is a glimmer of hope for England if they can recapture the spirit and passion they showed on Wednesday. With such an experienced and talented side, England have a chance to go on and reach the quarter finals by fulfilling the potential we all know is there- and showing us the spirit and passion that should have been there from the start.

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