England Draw Analysis: Dream WC Draw Maps Out Promising Path To Final Four

Tame draw gifts Lions chance to break quarters curse.
Over the years, some have dared to be critics of Fabio Capello, and chief among their reasons for not rating the former Milan, Roma, Juventus and Real Madrid coach as highly as the overwhelming majority is that they believe him to be lucky.

Coming into the 2010 World Cup with an unrelenting expectation to finally force England at very least past the quarter-final stage - and preferably to their second ever triumph in the tournament - he has been given a helping hand that might even make Thierry Henry blush.

Depending on who or what you believe, there may not be any easy games in international football, but of the 21 other possible opponents for England in tonight's draw, not many would have been any easier, at very least.

England have everything they could have possibly wanted. Algeria were the last of the African teams to make it through, Slovenia were steamrolled with ease mere months ago and the USA, while not pushovers, will add some 'local' interest, and motivation will be suitably high to ensure three points when that game rolls around on June 12, at the Royal Bakofeng Stadium in Rustenburg.

A group of half-death next door in D includes Ghana, Australia and Serbia - as well as top seed Germany. England could, in truth, face any of the four, but most likely one of those unseeded, with Serbia certainly having form on their side. They will certainly match England for strength, but are perhaps a team that, all things considered, Capello and his men would be expecting to overcome.

On paper - which is at best speculative - France could be England's opponents in the quarter-finals, on the basis that they would be expecting to beat the likes of USA, Slovenia or Algeria in their second round. Capello suffered against Les Bleus early in his tenure, but has since grown from strength to strength while Domenech's men slinked to South Africa to the widespread condemnation of the football world. They didn't even enter as a top seed, despite winning the World Cup in 1998 and being runners up last time out in 2006.

The entire half of the draw is not one that matches up at all to the other half of the draw (including record winners Brazil, holders Italy and favourites Spain), and thus, Argentina are in a similarly favourable position to England - perhaps even more so - to find their way to the semi-final.

And indeed England would be genuine favourites all the way up to the semis, where it would admittedly be even and highly unpredictable. Brazil and Spain seem almost destined to find their way to the latter stages as well.

It is in the semis where England are likely to meet their match, if it should be Brazil or Spain, but if either of them fall victim to an upset and England are able to make their way to the final, they are still incredibly likely to meet the other. And though anything can happen over 90 (or 120) minutes, this doesn't quite look like a championship-winning team.

Maybe next time.

Sulmaan Ahmad, Goal.com

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