I've got a feeling...
The Slovenia camp have a 'good feeling' about their match with the USA, but Nick Colling's not so confident...
Last Updated: 18/06/10 4:44pm
When looking at the prospect of a nation of 300 million people battling a nation with just 2 million, it would be easy to slip into the classic David vs. Goliath cliché.
But it really doesn't fit here.
The United States takes on Slovenia this Friday at Ellis Park in Johannesburg, and while a loss wouldn't mathematically see the Americans go home, it would make progressing to the knock-out stages very, very difficult.
So call it a must-win. Or at least a must-not lose.
But don't call it a mis-match.
The United States are 14th in the latest FIFA rankings, just 11 spots higher than Slovenia. And in order for Slovenia to arrive in South Africa for the World Cup, they had to beat Russia in a two-match play-off. Russia, if you're wondering, are rated No. 11.
Still thinking of cueing up the Biblical references? They're not thinking that way in the Slovenian camp.
"We will win this game," midfielder Andrej Komac said. "I have a good feeling."
Is he right? Let's look a little closer.
When the U.S. are on attack:
It will be interesting to see if the Americans take a bit of a bolder tack in this match than they did in the 1-1 draw against England. In an ideal world, Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey will see plenty of the ball on either wing, either cutting inside of floating crosses into Jozy Altidore.
Breaking down Slovenia may be difficult, however. They're coming off a 1-0 win over Algeria and allowed just five goals in 12 qualifying games, including just one to Russia in the last two.
Udinese keeper Samir Handanovic is an important last line of defence for the Little Dragons, so it will take a strong technical effort to put goals on the board.
When Slovenia are on attack:
Valter Birsa figures to attack from the left wing, trying to make trouble for Steve Cherundolo. In addition, captain Robert Koren, who had the goal against Algeria, leads from the midfield while Milivoje Novakovic and Zlatko Dedic also provide punch up front.
The Americans are down-playing the guarantee from Komac, but you have to believe that it's been pinned to the whiteboard somewhere in the U.S. camp.
The draw against England was a fine result, one that should give the Americans the confidence they need to push forward, nip a goal or two, and win this game.
Slovenia looked a little shaky at the back against Algeria, particularly in the first half, and they might indeed crack under a little more sustained pressure.
But they of course sit top of the group and should they win then they will go through to face possibly the mighty Ghana and Johnny Mensah.
Score draw, both sides sitting out for the point/Newcastle to go down with four points.