C is for comfortable
The World Cup draw was kind to England says Paul Merson, but could Germany be shock casualties?
Last Updated: 10/06/10 2:49pm
There's no excuses for England now... Fabio Capello couldn't have wished for a much kinder draw.
Maybe if you were hand picking the easiest group you'd swap the USA for New Zealand, but apart from that the draw has been very kind to England.
If we don't go through as winners from Group C then we won't win the World Cup, it's as simple as that. If we can't beat Algeria and Slovenia then we can't expect to go on and beat teams like Brazil, Italy and Spain.
I fully expect us to win this group easily. I suppose there is always a fear of complacency, but this isn't the Europa League, this is the World Cup. Surely none of the England players are going to take their eye off the ball when they get to South Africa.
Don't get me wrong, you've got to get a bit lucky to progress through this tournament. One fluke result can see you go out or one bad piece of defending can cost you a game - but I'd still expect us to win this group.
The first game against the Americans should be the hardest. The USA are well drilled and they are always going to be difficult to beat.
I watched Algeria in their play-off against Egypt and I'm still not sure how they got through that game. I thought at the time that whoever drew Algeria would beat them no worries. If we're worried about that game then we might as well not go over.
Slovenia had a great result to beat Russia over two legs in the play-off, but again I feel that's a kind draw.
This group is a great result for the USA too and I expect them to go through as runners-up. However, Algeria and Slovenia will be as happy as Larry too. They'll all probably look at England as group winners and fancy their own chances against each other.
Ideally we want to make sure we win the group so we are playing the runners-up of Group D, which features Germany, Australia, Serbia and Ghana.
However, I don't think Germany will go through. I know they always seem to pull it out of the bag when we get to a major tournament, but I think this could be a World Cup too far.
You write them off at your peril, but I think they could be the major casualty from the group stage.
I'm sure all of the England players will have been watching and for the 16 or so guys that are certainties to go - John Terry, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard etc - this draw will really have brought home to them that they're going to the World Cup.
And I'm sure they're well pleased with that draw.
I was confident about England's chances before the draw and I certainly haven't changed my mind. If they are all fit and we can put our strongest team out in the big games I think England can be a match for anybody.
Paul's predictions - who will go through?
GROUP A: Mexico and France
GROUP B: Nigeria and Argentina
GROUP C: England and USA
GROUP D: Ghana and Australia
GROUP E: Holland and Denmark
GROUP F: Italy and Paraguay
GROUP G: Brazil and Ivory Coast
GROUP H: Spain and Chile
WORLD CUP WINNERS: England won't be far off, but whoever beats Spain will win the World Cup