In Group C we have England, Algeria, USA, and Slovenia. England have just lost their captain Rio Ferdinand to injury in South Africa, they have replaced him with Spurs defender Michael Dawson. While this may affect them in the later stages I don't think it will have a large impact in the group stage. Slovenia are a little bit of a surprise team here, they had an excellent qualifying but were drawn against Guus Hiddink and Russia in the playoff, and they impressed again. USA put a lot of teams on notice with their strong performances in last year's Confederation Cup. Algeria emerged from a difficult group battling it out with African Champions Egypt. I suspect that had Russia & Egypt qualified instead of Algeria and Slovenia this would have been labeled the group of death.
Here is how the elevation, travel and preparations break down for each team:
England start off in Rustenburg at 1500m above sea level. From their they travel the 1423km to Cape Town and drop to sea level. For their last match they go to Port Elizabeth 748km away and also at sea level. In terms of preparations England played Mexico and Japan, they won both matches but didn't really impress in either.
Algeria start in Polokwane at 1310m. They then make a long 1719km trip to Cape Town and drop to sea level. Algeria make their way back across the country with a 1471km journey and an increase in elevation to 1214m. Algeria lost 3-0 to Ireland in their 1st warm up match and will face UAE before the tournament kicks off.
USA begin in Rustenburg 1500m up. The States then have a short 121km trip to Jo'burg and gain 253m. USA wrap up the group stage in Pretoria 539m lower and 62km away from Jo'burg. USA lost badly to the Czech Republic before beating Turkey in their warm up matches in the US, they will face Australia in South Africa before the tournament.
Slovenia start in Polokwane at 1310m. They move 322km to Jo'burg and gain 443m. Finishing things off in Port Elizabeth 1062km at sea level. Slovenia had a comfortable win over New Zealand in their only warm up match.
Here is how I see the matches going.
England - USA
USA come out strong eager to make a good start in the tournament, unfortunately for them England have a lot more talent and are also keen to grab all three points. England wins.
Slovenia - Algeria
Algeria are carrying a few suspensions into their first few matches and haven't been known for their consistency, Slovenia have done nothing but impress. Slovenia wins comfortably.
Slovenia - USA
Both teams have a short distance to travel and have a hard fought battle with neither yielding. I see this one as a draw all the way.
England - Algeria
England need to careful to not get overconfident ahead of this one, Algeria do not travel well and England should win this easily, which I think they will.
Slovenia - England
Slovenia need a point to ensure they advance, England need a point to guarantee top spot, a draw suits both teams, however I think that Slovenia will push for the win. England's reserves will feature in this match and will take their chance to shine, I see this as a scoring draw.
USA - Algeria
USA have a short journey and Algeria have another long one. I see the travel taking its toll and the USA getting the win they need in case the Slovenes slip up.
Here is how the group will finish:
England 7 points
Slovenia 5 points
USA 4 points
Algeria 0 points