There is a mathematical scenario wherein England could yet advance to the knockout round. It's highly unlikely, to say the least, but stranger things have happened (and rather recently at that, right, Spain?). It would require Italy winning both of their remaining games -- Balotelli getting rewarded with a kiss on the cheek from the Queen -- and England beating Costa Rica by a certain amount that depends on Italy's margin of assumed victory over Costa Rica tomorrow. Unfortunately, based on the evidence in front of us, England beating anybody right now, by any amount is a tall order.
That's not entirely due to the lack of goals, especially now that Wayne Rooney finally got over the hurdle of his first ever World Cup tally. Or at least it's not mostly due to that. It's mostly the defense. And the midfield, oh the midfield. Nice assist there, Captain Slippy.
Chelsea's lone representative in this game played in defense, though to criticize Gary Cahill (at all? too much? too much at all?) today would be akin to lambasting Cesar Azpilicueta for Spain conceding seven goals. Defending is a team game, much more so than attacking can be. An individual can only do so much when he's playing next to Phil Jagielka, Glen Johnson, and Leighton Baines, and behind such a strong midfield presence like Steven Gerrard. And especially when facing the deadly duo of Edinson Cavani - playing some godly combination of second striker, right back, left back, and trequartista - and Luis Suarez who casually strolled to a brace with nary an effort. He first ghosted in behind Jagielka to nod past Hart from Cavani's sumptious cross, then made fools of the England backline to collect Gerrard's inadvertent flick and blast home the winner five minutes from time. Two shots on-target, two goals, too good.
That's not to say that Cahill's performance was faultless. Without John Terry to marshall a cohesive back line, even Cahill played down a level from his club form - a bit too passive for my liking, too often playing it safe and backing down - though he was markedly better today than against Italy and saved England's bacon on several occasions. Thanks for the help, rest of the team.
Should Hodgson try something different and reasonable on Tuesday, England may yet sneak into the knockout round for a date with Colombia. Otherwise, Cahill will be coming home early as well.