Team Guide: ENGLAND

It's St George's Day on Sunday and so we've cunningly timed the Bratwurst series of team guides so that it's now the turn of Group B. Those of you that have been paying close attention will have noticed that we're doing the teams in alphabetical order. The first team in Group B, alphabetically, is… England! Three cheers for St George and St Wayne of Rooney!

ENGLAND, Group B

10 June vs PARAGUAY (2pm*, Frankfurt)

15 June vs TRINIDAD & TOBAGO (5pm, Nuremberg)

20 June vs SWEDEN (8pm, Cologne)

*all time BST

World Ranking 10

How they qualified
Pretty comfortable ride through an easy group, although that shock 1-0 defeat to Northern Ireland meant that things weren't wrapped up until the last group game.

World Cup history
Winners on home soil in 1966, but then you knew that already. Since then it's been mostly painful exits, from nerve-shredding penalty shoot-outs to Maradona's dastardly Hand of God.

Star man
Wayne Rooney, no question. Still a teenager and still the young pup of the England team but Roo plays like a man amongst boys. Rooney's main assets are brute strength, fearlessness, a wonderful first touch and an eye for goal. In fact, he doesn't appear to have any obvious weaknesses. I could have mentioned his suspect temperament but Fergie seems to have fixed that, too. The best teenage footballer in the world and I don't care who says different. If Rooney stays fit and plays well, England has a half-decent chance of going all the way.

Strengths
Very solid at the back, although Ashley Cole's fitness is vital
Wayne Rooney (see above)
Hugely talented midfield, especially going forward: Joe Cole, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard and David Beckham are as good a quartet as any in the world right now

Weaknesses
Bit of a pre-tournament injury crisis, with Michael Owen, Ashley Cole, Ledley King and Sol Campbell all struggling
Penalty shoot-outs (please, not again)
Lack of striking firepower, especially if Owen is crocked

Did you know?
St George's mother was from Palestine. Good pub quiz ammo

Odds 6-1 (Blue Square)

Verdict
Hmm, very tricky. It's easy to be subjective and say, as many of our players have been, that we have a great chance of going all the way. After all, we do have a great bunch of players this time around. Objectively, I'm predicting another quarter-final thriller with a hefty dose of luck needed to go any further. Either way, come on you England!