Wayne Rooney And England Have More Than The Swiss Defence to Deal with

Sam RobertsCorrespondent ISeptember 7, 2010

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 03:  Wayne Rooney of England is seen during the UEFA EURO 2012 Group G Qualifying match between England and Bulgaria at Wembley Stadium on September 3, 2010 in London, England.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
Mark Thompson/Getty Images

Facing the only team to beat world champions Spain at the World Cup is a tough enough challenge for Fabio Capello and England as it is, but once more the build up to the game has been hampered by the sordid details of a player's private life, cynically splashed over the English tabloids.

The England players put up for interview along with Capello were in defence mode ahead of the Euro 2012 qualifier. Gerrard, no stranger to controversy himself, played journalists questions away with a straight bat, highlighting the players' responsibilities but also admitting they are as fallible as the rest of us.

For Capello it may have brought some relief as it took the heat off his own position, which has remained in a perilous state since the 4-1 defeat to Germany in South Africa.

Dealing with questions about the latest round of tabloid headlines is something he is used to, sadly, and he was more comfortable with them than when he fielded questions about his future. The online odds still suggest his position is under threat.

For England fans we can only hope Wayne Rooney put his personal issues to one side and performs on the pitch as the Swiss side will take some breaking down. True they lack a cutting edge up front, as four goals in nine games under Ottmar Hitzfeld shows, but as their win over Spain demonstrated, they are very difficult to break down and will grimly hold on to a lead if given the chance. England are likely to face two solid banks of four, defending deep and squeezing space. It could be a dour, frustrating war of attrition, and England need to be ready for it. The Euro 2012 odds suggest they should win the match, but it won't be easy.

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Four years ago England's second Euro 2008 qualifier was a desperate 2-0 defeat against Croatia, which they failed to recover from. Two years ago a 4-1 win against the same side set the Three Lions on the way to World Cup qualification.

Now England stand at a similar crossroads, and we can only hope Rooney and co lead us down the right path.