"We have confidence in ourselves as a team, and as a player you want to play in the biggest games, where the spotlight comes on the brightest. I think there's going to be a real feeling of excitement on Wednesday. This is our time and we're ready to go. We'll give everything we have."
England v. Slovenia
Matthew Upson stepped in for Jamie Carragher for this match. Fabio Capello for once, sat on his seat and was far less troubled than in England's previous two matches. This was definitely a much improved England performance with Defoe repaying the coach's faith by scoring the winner. Steven Gerrard again put in a captain's performance but could not get the goal his all-round play deserved. The Upson-Terry partnership for me is much better than Carra-Terry. Capello's worry that Upson's poor club form will translate to international form turned out to be unfounded. His late tackle as Dedic prepared to pull the trigger saved England from elimination.
England passed the ball so much better in this game, especially in the first half. Lampard's presence was once more peripheral. Wayne Rooney spent most of the afternoon looking a frustrated striker who doesn't know when his next goal will be coming from. Everybody (myself included) wanted Joe Cole to start prior to this match but apart from one notable chance, he also struggled to show his true abilities. England can play a lot better and so have not peaked yet. That alone should comfort England fans around the world.
Thus, England are through to the last 16, at the expense of Slovenia which offered surprisingly little threat. The Three Lions were playing with more freedom in this game. The fear that had been gripping the team is slowly ebbing away and hopefully the good form that England had shown pre-World Cup will come flooding back. Major worry for England is an out-of-form Rooney who clearly looks tired and jaded in the three games he has played in. Wazza was denied a goal by Handanovic, a goal that would've boosted his confidence immensely.
United States v. Algeria
Far more indomitable than Cameroon, the USA kept pushing for the breakthrough. Knowing that a win will guarantee them top spot in Group C, the Americans never stopped attacking. They were absolutely brilliant, working hard and finally were rewarded right at the death when Landon Donovan slotted home emphatically. Clint Dempsey has been in great form in this tournament and he again were in the centre of all the bright moments for the US. In crucial matches, the Stars and Stripes have players who can step up and take charge. Dempsey, Howard, Michael Bradley and their captain supreme, Landon Donovan.
United States thoroughly deserved to win against Algeria. Bradley's boys are worthy leaders of Group C by merit. They play the best football in the Group, maintaining a vibrant attacking policy. They have had two perfectly legitimate goals disallowed and therefore the Americans are due a break or two. The US is a team that believes in their technical ability and have the capability to surprise.
The Three Lions have woken up and preparing to roar once again. The Stars and Stripes have possibly their best side and is determined to prove that last year's Confederations Cup final was no fluke.