USA face challenge as favourites v Slovenia

IRENE - The United States will be favourites to beat Slovenia on Friday and believe they can handle the pressure at Ellis Park.

A 1-1 draw with England was a creditable opening result for Bob Bradley's team in Group C but will be forgotten if they slip up against a Slovenia side who beat Algeria in their opener.

"Going into a game as possible favourites would be different for us, especially in this World Cup, and that does pose a challenge... to know that you're under pressure to get three points, or get a good result," said defender Jay DeMerit.

"It's a challenge. I think preparation is key, mindset as a team is key. It's games like this that are going to get you to the next round, not the game against England," he said.

Bradley is expected to stick with the same starting lineup as that which featured against England with goalkeeper Tim Howard having recovered from his bruised ribs.

With Slovenia likely to play a patient game and wait to break on the counter-attack, the match is likely to be, as Bradley himself noted, "something of a chess match".

PLAY HARD

"We're comfortable no matter what. We're going to go out and play hard," said Clint Dempsey, whose equaliser earned a point against England thanks to a howler by keeper Robert Green.

"We have this sense of togetherness about us where everybody is on the same page and we know that we all have the guy next to us who is going to put in the work," he added.

Slovenia coach Matjaz Kek said they had analysed mistakes in a jittery first half against Algeria in an opening 1-0 win and knew dips in form could be costly versus stronger opponents.

"We have to improve our passing and finishing because the first 30 minutes against Algeria left a lot to be desired," Kek told a news conference.

"The players were aware of that and took my objections the right way, that's why they improved and clawed out a win.

"Advancing to the last 16 is in our hands now and I expect a fascinating battle against the Americans, we will have to be strong in every aspect to prevail."

Kek is likely to stick to his preferred 4-4-2 formation with Valter Birsa and Andraz Kirm on the flanks while captain Robert Koren and Aleksandar Radosavljevic should operate in the middle.

Zlatko Dedic could make way for Zlatan Ljubijankic up front.

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