Early European exits may be a blessing in disguise for Capello’s England
By Guest Writer Ben Roe.
The semi-finals of Europe’s most prestigious club competition come to a climax this week. Inter Milan and Bayern Munich hold the aces going into next week’s second legs, but both ties are very much alive. When Arjen Robben’s sublime volley and Lionel Messi’s master class sent Manchester United and Arsenal crashing out of the competition, an air of disappointment swept across the nation. It seemed hard to believe not one of the English qualifiers – Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester United or Liverpool – would qualify for the last four. Personally my interest in the competition has diminished somewhat, along with many other people in this country. Yes, the final four teams have bags of quality, and with Lionel Messi still in the tournament, there will always be excitement. However with no English representative my interest just isn’t the same and I believe I’m not just speaking for myself.
We would have all loved to see Chelsea, Manchester United or Arsenal in the final; this may be a blessing in disguise. I’m sure Fabio Capello was absolutely delighted when he saw each English representative fail in their bid for European glory. With only seven weeks until the World Cup begins in South Africa, all the national team coaches will be sweating on the fitness of their stars. A huge bulk of Capello’s squad will be made up of Chelsea and Manchester United players. With the likes of John Terry, Ashley and Joe Cole, Frank Lampard, Gary Neville, Wes Brown, Rio Ferdinand, Michael Carrick, Wayne Rooney and Theo Walcott of Arsenal.
If one or more of the teams would have reached the semi-finals and then the final it would add an extra three games onto the player’s season. This might not seem a lot of games but after a long season players can easily pick up injuries which could rule them out of the world cup. All the names above may be gutted to have been knocked out but their schedules have become a lot less hectic, giving them a greater chance of reaching the World Cup finals in tip top condition.
Many of the players still participating in the Champions League semi-finals will be hoping to make the journey to South Africa, but Maradonna and Co will be watching nervously, praying their star players, such as Lionel Messi, will arrive in South Africa unscathed. The number of world cup hopefuls among the semi-finalists is endless. Messi, Robben, Schwiensteiger, Henry, Ribery, Sneijder, Govou, Lahm, Iniesta, Xavi, Puyol, and Pique are just some of the name who will all want to make the headlines come June and July.
In recent years England has had numerous injury nightmares in the build up to major tournament, most notably David Beckham’s famous race against time to overcome a broken metatarsal in 2002. I believe this year’s group of players is the strongest squad England has had heading to a major tournament since I was born in 1988. It would be a catastrophe any of our top players were to pick up a serious injury. Take Wayne Rooney as a prime example, he was desperate to play in Manchester United’s 2nd leg against Bayern Munich, leading to the re-occurrence of his ankle problem. He has now picked up a groin strain which has ended his participation in this season title race. After a long season Rooney is now feeling the strain on his body, fingers crossed he will be fully fit and raring to go in June.
I know the climax of the Champions League may not be the same without an English representative but this could be a major advantage for England’s World Cup campaign. There may only be two more premiership games left, but there also a cup final for Chelsea, and Liverpool and Fulham are still in the Europa League semi-finals. If any English team would have progressed to the last four of the Champions League their schedules would have been that little bit harder, increasing the chance of injury. Capello will be hoping all his proposed squad members make it through these last few games safely. If they do, England will have a fantastic chance of bringing the World Cup home in July.
Do you think Capello is pleased Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester United and Liverpool failed to make the semi finals of the champions league? Please leave your comments below….
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