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50-50: Liverpool vs. Real Madrid

Champions League 1 day ago
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By ESPN Staff
Aug 23, 2008

Capello considers Hargreaves for Croatia game

Fabio Capello will consider the importance of Owen Hargreaves as a midfield anchor against Croatia next month after accepting England's problems facing counter-attacking teams. Hargreaves, after coming off the bench in Capello's first match, has started two games under the Italian but was recovering from a tendinitis problem in his knee this week when Czech Republic patiently waited before picking England apart in the 2-2 draw at Wembley. Capello explained his formation as a 4-3-2-1, with David Beckham, Gareth Barry and Frank Lampard his middle trio. Without an out-and-out defensive midfielder, the system played into the hands of Petr Rada's men last Wednesday, with Croatia expected to execute the same swift attacking when England visit Zagreb on September 10. 'I think there is Hargreaves,' Capello said. 'I've said before, we suffered on the counter-attack when other teams play a 9-1 formation. If you score a goal it changes completely. 'I noted a lot of things against Czech Republic, the good things and the bad things. It is important for me because the four games we played before, the level of teams were not like this. 'Against Czech Republic I understood where we have to improve.' Capello remained optimistic after the 2-2 draw against the Czechs, insisting his players will be fitter and therefore better prepared when they face Andorra then Croatia, with the double-header starting in a fortnight. Hargreaves has an outside chance of making Manchester United's UEFA Super Cup tie with Zenit St Petersburg next Friday, while other members of Capello's squad should also have at least another two matches of the season under their belts. 'At this moment, there is a difference physically from the Czechs and England players, they were faster with more pressing, and we suffered from this,' Capello said. 'They need to find a good condition, it is impossible at the moment to be 100%. Before the game I decided (Wayne) Rooney and Lampard would only play one hour, I saw on TV Rooney and Gerrard but I did not see them myself (last weekend). 'I was told both were so-so and not in perfect condition. For me these players are an important part of the team and I want to see them on the pitch.' As well as physically, Capello wants his players to match the spirit of Slaven Bilic's side in the clash that could define England's 2010 World Cup qualifying campaign. 'I think against Czech Republic I saw a good spirit, not like Croatia - I think they are like Turkey and have a big spirit of the country,' he said. 'But I am happy because the reaction of the players during the Czech game was positive.' Capello also warned his players not to underestimate the other countries in their group. 'They are important games next month but we also have to respect the other countries, Belarus drew with Argentina,' he added. 'We always speak about Croatia but there are other teams.'

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