International Soccer: England vs. Peru

International Soccer:  England vs. Peru

England always has to deal with lofty expectations from their boosters in every World Cup and this one is no different. The problem this time is that the expectations of the soccer mad Brits may exceed this team’s talent. In any case they’ll start preparing for World Cup play as they welcome Peru to Wembley Stadium for their first tune up ‘friendly’. They’ll head to Miami for their remaining two exhibition games so this is the final chance for English fans to wish their soccer team good luck before they leave.

Soccer coaching legend Roy Hodgson took over stewardship of the ‘Three Lions’ last year so this is his first major test. Hodgson has a stellar coaching resume with stops at Inter Milan and several Premier League teams. If anything, the 2014 England team will be tough–Hodgson has reportedly been putting his charges through very physical drills more suitable for a rugby team. He’s also trying to get the team prepared for the heat and humidity of Brazil by having them wear several layers of thermal gear during training. The good news is that Wayne Rooney is healthy and that hasn’t been the case during his prior International career. Rooney probably won’t play much (if at all) against Peru but his fitness has boosted the team’s enthusiasm. When Rooney is healthy he’s a very dangerous offensive weapon.

Hodgson is expected to tinker with the lineup during this game but it’s no doubt a game he wants to win. England had no trouble qualifying for the World Cup but with 4 draws in 10 games they’ve been criticized for a lack of a ‘killer instinct’. Given the talent disparity between these sides you can expect England to be aggressive on both ends of the field. Peru didn’t qualify for the World Cup this year and haven’t done so since 1982. It’s never easy for Peru–there’s just too many good teams in South America. They had a leg up this year since Brazil didn’t have to qualify (the host nation gets an automatic bid) but still couldn’t make it work. Peru’s problem? They don’t play well away from home. During 2014 World Cup qualification they went winless on the road losing 7 of the 8 contests. England hasn’t fared well in International Friendlies of late winning only 2 of 6 though they have won 4 straight exhibitions prior to World Cup play.

England essentially *has* to win in their final appearance on home soil and they’ve got a made to order opponent with poor traveling Peru. One option is to lay the big price with the ‘Three Lions’ but we’ll play the handicap. Anything less than a resounding victory will be a disappointment so we expect England to win by 2 or more.