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World Cup 2010: England 1 – 1 USA

June 13, 2010

Well, England’s World Cup is under way in typical fashion but quite honestly I’m a bit relieved. I had a nasty feeling beforehand that the USA might win this one, and given that they are the other team expected to qualify from group C, a 1-1 draw is far from disastrous. England’s performance was better than I expected too (although to be honest my expectations were pretty low); they were unquestionably the better side, the opening goal was well worked and well taken, and players whose inclusion on the team sheet sent shivers down my spine acquitted themselves fairly well. Glen Johnson will undoubtedly be identified as a weak link by any team with a capable left-sided attacker, but he linked up well with Aaron Lennon when he came forward, and given that the alternative is Jamie Carragher (whose lack of pace was painfully evident, especially when paired with a sluggish John Terry) his claim on a starting place seems pretty secure. I was very surprised when I saw that Shaun Wright-Phillips had been named in the final 23, and the guile and technique of Joe Cole would have made him my choice to replace an overheated James Milner, but Wright-Phillips showed pace and industry at least when he came on.

I wish England could stroke the ball about like Argentina or Spain; keeping possession, playing the ball along the ground and probing for openings with incisive final balls, but that has never been their modus operandi. Given that being a ‘Sideways Passer’ is a criticism often levelled at midfielders who don’t hoof the ball forwards at every given opportunity, its hardly surprising that England play with a very direct style, so to criticise them for this (as some such as The Guardian‘s Barry Glendenning have done) seems silly. This was a better performance than any in the group stage of the last World Cup, and was several notches above the abysmal showings in the pre-tournament friendlies.

Tactics-wise, Capello needs to find a way to make sure Rooney gets more of the ball, as he had limited opportunities in this match. The  return of Gareth Barry in place of Lampard will hopefully mean that Algeria and Slovenia won’t enjoy as much possession as the USA did in the first half. Matthew Upson probably deserves a start in the absence of Ledley King, and hopefully Joe Cole will get a chance to bring some invention to the side, and provide the required service to Rooney.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Kenneth permalink
    June 22, 2010 12:55 am

    Football would be a better sport if not all goals were worth the same. They should be judged on artistic merrit. There should be a team of judges holding up cards with numbers on them when people score. Impressive goals should be rewarded more.

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