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european qualifying

Bilic claims England have lost their "Englishness"

September 7, 2009
By Soccernet staff

Slaven Bilic believes he has a master plan to become the first side to avoid defeat against England in World Cup qualifying, suggesting they are "missing some Englishness" which makes them easier to play against.

Croatia coach Slaven Bilic
GettyImages / HrvojePolanCroatia coach Slaven Bilic has a series of tactical dilemmas to solve.

The Croatia coach knows it would take an amazing reversal in fortunes for both his side and England too to finish on top of Group Six. The best his side can realistically hope for is a place in the November play-offs, and that can be cemented with a positive result at Wembley on Wednesday.

Bilic thinks that the introduction of Italian boss Fabio Capello to the England side has led to a change of style, and despite losing 4-1 on home turf last year he does not feel it is for the better.

He said: "They are a very different team. They have some advantages but they are also missing something from their game. They are missing some Englishness, some of the things that have always made England teams difficult to defend against and play against.

"All I will say is that they are definitely missing something and we know what it is. But of course I am not going to tell you now what it is. It is our secret.''

The coach's statement suggests he has a plan for the match, but his task has not been made easier by the loss of Luka Modric to injury and now fellow Spurs player Vedran Corluka who was sent off against Belarus on Saturday.

Liverpool's Steven Gerrard understandably has a different view of Capello's tenure.

He said: "I think Fabio Capello could be the key to having a successful World Cup. He is one of those managers amongst that handful around the world who are the best. Managers who are that good can make the difference. It is good we have him here with England and he and his staff are focused and are winners.

"If they can translate that into the team, and you listen and learn, I am confident we can do well. I think that winning mentality has transferred itself to the team. There is still a long way to go, improvement for this team to do before we can win a World Cup, but I'm certainly confident we can do better that what we have produced before.

"Croatia will be a big test and we have got a lot of respect for them especially after the last time they performed at Wembley. But I think the players are still hurting from that result and performance and we need to use that to motivate us to try and get the win on Wednesday.

"As a player you don't want to miss out on a big tournament. We have got a fantastic chance on Wednesday night to go to the World Cup. We don't want to go into the last two games needing results. It is very important that we get the job done straight away.''