Georgina Turner
Friday June 11th, 2010

England players are walking out for the anthems without their anthem jackets on, which is bad news for all the Sun readers who forked out $100 for one from Umbro.

English national anthem first, sung with the usual tuneless gusto in the crowd. The players stare ahead and quiver their lips when they think the cameras are on them.

Now for the USA, and the team stands hands on hearts and shoulders. For all the talk of having the most supporters, the US has definitely been outsung on the terraces. Donovan looks in the zone.

More pregame

USA! USA! USA! v Ingerland

So here we are, you on your side of the pond, waving flags and singing about star-spangled banners (why can I never hear that song without it being in the strained, warbling voice of a pre-pubescent girl?), and me on my side, hoping I don't get fired if England win.

There are vast differences between our nations: you make great TV but lousy chocolate, which we do a fine line in; you sell the world Coke, but you've never lived until you've glugged down an ice cold bottle of Dandelion and Burdock, a drink older than the USA itself (ooh, there it is, the history card!); you have great open highways with picture-postcard views, we know how to use roundabouts.

But on the pitch, we're actually pretty similar, which either makes for a fantastic match or a thoroughly disappointing stalemate. My heart, which is pounding a bit now we're nearing kick-off, says we could be treated to a 3-2 adventure. My head says 2-1 is the best we can hope for.

Team news:

Bob Bradley doesn't pull any surprises, though I must say from an English perspective, Ricardo Clark's selection over someone like Jose Francisco Torres is a welcome sight. There's nothing too shocking about England, either, seeing as we're all now numbed to what should be a piercing pain when we read Emile Heskey's name. And you're in luck, my American friends; Rob Green's got the nod in goal despite the best efforts of Joe Hart, a palpably superior goalkeeper.

England: Robert Green; Glen Johnson, Ledley King, John Terry, Ashley Cole; Aaron Lennon, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, James Milner; Emile Heskey, Wayne Rooney.

USA: Tim Howard; Steve Cherundolo, Oguchi Onyewu, Jay DeMerit, Carlos Bocanegra; Landon Donovan, Michael Bradley, Ricardo Clark, Clint Dempsey; Robbie Findley, Jozy Altidore.

Pregame banter:

It's only day two of a month-long tournament but this is the game we've all been waiting for. In the last 60 years, England and the U.S. have faced off nine times: in 1950, their first meeting (and the only previous competitive match), a complacent England was shocked to lose 1-0, and took revenge by putting 29 goals past the U.S. in the four matches that followed. By 1993, mind you, England was a shambles and the U.S. had found its soccer mojo: Alexi Lalas nodding home a second half header to confirm the win. More recent friendlies have gone the way of the English, but the scorelines have gotten tighter.

Not that any of that really matters here in 2010, where USA consul general in South Africa, Alberta Mayberry, uncapped the nasty by proclaiming: "Our men are preparing to crush your little boys". Sadly I couldn't find any English folk foolish enough to shout up England's chances using fist-into-palm gestures, though we're all steering clear of too much disdainful silence, too. We still remember the front page of the Sun newspaper 17 years ago, after Lalas's quiff scored the U.S.'s second: "Yanks 2 Planks 0".

The parallels between England and the U.S. are probably what's got most of us biting our fingernails: one striker we like, another we're not convinced by; slight lack of confidence in the back line; hoping against hope that the team will find ways to work the ball to the most exciting players on the pitch, who can have little impact if not. U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard reckons the whole USA will come to a standstill, Armageddon-style, as we near kickoff. According to concerned medical types over here in Blighty, we'll see a heart-warming 15 percent rise in binge drinking, violence and street crime.

I'll be bringing you live play-by-play analysis right here on Saturday from 2 p.m. ET. If my lot wins, I promise not to activate the webcam showing me dancing around my living room in a beer-stained England shirt, kneeing friends in the groin and smashing my neighbors' windows with well-aimed footballs. As usual, get your match thoughts, nationalist jibes and World Cup hysteria to me at, and I'll try and use as many of them as I can during the game.

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