England may have been the second team (after Germany) to qualify for the second stage of the World Cup, but they have not impressed me much, and I predict that unless they start generating some goals, they are going to crash out of this tournament before the semis. Hell, they have a good chance, in my opinion, of being beaten by Germany or Ecuador, in the very first match of the second stage.
Allow me to explain. England pretty much has a lock on Group B, as they face second-place Sweden for their final match of the group stage, and they are going to get at least a point (I am predicting that a draw will be the worst result for England against the Swedes, who frankly have not looked at all impressive this go 'round). As winners of Broup B, England will face the runner-up from Group A, which will be determined when Germany and Ecuador meet on Tuesday. Ecuador actually leads the group on goal differential (5 GF, 0 GA versus 5 GF, 2 GA for ze Germans), so if Germany wants the group, they need to do better than a draw against Ecuador. And Germany definitely wants to win the group, since that would put them up against Sweden in their first match of the second stage, not England. And even though I think England is due for a rude awakening, they are certainly a much stronger side than is Sweden.
So here's what I see happening: Germany beats Ecuador 2-1 on Tuesday. England beats Sweden 1-0 (I don't see the English getting past their offensive woes against the Swedish defence, which has not conceded a goal yet, but I don't see the Swedish attack, which has only generated one goal so far, overcoming England's touch defensive backs).
Germany beats Sweden 3-0 in their first match of the second stage, while Ecuador beats England 1-1 in penalties in their first match.
And these are the gutsy, unpopular predictions that you can only get here. So dig in, folks.
Oh yeah, and let me just close in saying that I hope I am wrong about England, as I really like their team. Maybe Wayne Rooney will be the magic bullet that fixes their offence. But I doubt it.