Thursday, 14 June 2012

England 1 France 1

I know I'm a bit late, but I thought I'd comment on England's Euro 2012 opener.  In general, I though England's performance was okay; not great, certainly room for improvement, but not bad either.  In particular, it was good to see England play like a team rather than eleven individuals.  I also thought Gerrard had one of his better performances in an England shirt for a while.  Defensively, England were pretty solid.  Despite the French dominating possession, they had few real clear chances and only scored through a moment of brilliance from Nasri.  Offensively, England did not show too much but did have probably the best chance of the match, when Milner was put through by Young.

The main problems with England were the usual ones; an inability to keep possession as the game wore on, dropping too deep with Gerrard and Parker sitting in the penalty box, and generally tiring.  These are all problems we've seen before, time and again, and they're not going to be fixed now.  In this sense, Hodgson's emphasis on solidity is probably the right option, even if it's not pretty.

The other worrying thing about the match was Hodgson's apparent reluctance to make changes.  While England started the second half well, after the hour mark the French again bossed possession.  A manager needs to be able to respond to such situations and change things.  Granted, England are not exactly blessed with strength in depth, but in doing nothing Hodgson showed himself satisfied with letting the players be run ragged.

Looking ahead to the next game, Sweden's defeat at the hands of Ukraine could play into England's hands.  Sweden will probably have to come out and go for a win, which should play into our counter-attacking strategy.  A draw seems the most likely result to me, which would not be terrible for England but would leave us needing to beat Ukraine in the last match.

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