England 1 – 2 Italy 1st Group game in Manaus.
England started very well so well in fact that most of the country were up celebrating when Sterling on his first competitive start for England done what he was paid to do picked the ball up on the half way line glided forward 17 yards and drove the ball what looked like into the near top corner from 25 yards, it was the perfect start we thought as we bounced around the room embracing each other in celebration…….that was until we realized the team were not as excited as we as fans were. That was because it hit the side netting.
As the world cup has continued I’ve noticed this has happened more and more, FIFA please tighten the nets to save us from any more embarrassing embraces with friends and family.
As the stats show this game set records in pass completion during a world cup with Italy 93% Eng 91%. Something England supporters have been crying out for the last 4 years.
With Rooney and Baines on the left whether or not it was a deliberate ploy by the italians the only crosses they made in the whole game were from their right hand side. All 8 crosses were hit withing the same 10 yards as we know 1 of them good enough to find Ballotelli to score. With Sterling potentially being pushed out left side on Thursday despite the belief of some pundits he would provide quicker and better cover for Baines than Rooney, who can be susceptible to Roam too much to have to rely upon when we need to defend.
The first goal was cause because of England over indulgence on defending.
As we are taught through the ranks “bodies behind the ball” We did this on the corner that led to the goal, with 3 men in the box not marking anyone. Baines near post, then runs out to the short corner, Sterling on the 6 yard box runs out to cut out the receiver from the short corner, that left Rooney and Welbeck on the 6 yard box doing nothing, Pirlo threw the dummy with Sturridge closing him down, that left Marchisio with no one within 5 yards of him. If Sturridge was on the half way line then no defence would have left 1 v 1 on their own corner so that would have taken Marchisio out of the frame. Rooney marking Pirlo, Welbeck marking Verratti who gave the assist. The Italians had 4 players in the box, we had 9!! This happened twice in the game the second occasion we were lucky enough to get away with it. I hope we learn from that and don’t just assume that empty space in the box will score.
As far as attacking intent goes, Italy only took it past an England player 4 times in the whole game compared to England’s 12. But of course with Pirlo in the team making 103 successful passes maybe you don’t have to.
Di Rossi and Pirlo had far too much control of the midfield with 50 passes to and from each other, compared to Henderson and Gerrard sharing just 5! With Gerrard deciding to send the ball wide to our fullbacks 28 times trying to keep the ball away from the italian midfield.
There’s plenty of suggestion to play different personel for the Uruguay game, but realistically its more likely to be a change in positions than players.
No matter what happens, they’ll be screaming, cheering, swearing at the screen from 8 till 9.50pm uk time tonight. All you can do is enjoy!