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The case for Capello's defence

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Alistair Magowan - BBC Sport | 09:57 UK time, Monday, 14 November 2011

Less than 18 months ago it was no understatement to say that England's defence was in disarray, as the national team suffered a punishing 4-1 defeat by Germany in the second round of the World Cup.

So, whatever the merit of the 1-0 victory over Spain on Saturday, keeping a clean sheet against the world champions represents a progress of sorts.

Reaction to the game at Wembley has been measured, as it should be. The fixture was a friendly, Spain withdrew many of their best performers during the match and, although England achieved a fine result, they did it with a backs-to-the-wall display in which they defended for long periods.

But a key question arose in the aftermath: are these the kind of tactics we can come to expect against better opposition during the remaining months of manager Fabio Capello's reign?

And after several years spent bemoaning his team's lack of confidence in high-pressure games, is it a sign that his players respond better to a game plan where they defend for long periods and hit teams on the break?

His demands for a high-pressing game have, at times, had mixed results against top international teams. And compared to the game against France a year ago, the areas where England made the majority of their tackles showed a willingness to drop deeper.


England made more tackles in deeper positions against Spain

Cast your mind back to Bloemfontein and England's gung-ho spirit once Frank Lampard's "goal" had been disallowed against the Germans. At times the defence looked lost, and it had little protection in front of it.

Now, England have evolved into a team which tends to have two holding midfielders and another three players further forward who can attack in support of a lone striker or defend en masse as they did against Spain.

It is a formation which is far more structured in defence and can use the pace of quick forwards to spring counter attacks. And the system can be put to the test again when they face both Sweden on Tuesday and then the likely friendly against the Netherlands in February.

For all Spain's possession they did not trouble England's goal on too many occasions until the latter stages, when David Villa hit a post, Cesc Fabregas shot wide and Scott Parker nipped in to deny Gerard Pique.

In some senses England were fortunate as they were not fully punished for giving the ball away carelessly. But in keeping the spaces between the members of their back four to less than 10 yards, and executing countless well-timed tackles and interceptions, they showed that Spain were not the only technical team on show.

After all, is there no artistry or skill in defending? Capello's team made three fewer blocks against Spain than they did in their eight Euro 2012 qualifying games combined.

Perhaps Vicente del Bosque's side were not at their best, but they did not fully exploit the wide spaces that England's back four were willing to concede.


England have the second best record for conceding shots on target in Euro 2012 qualifying

Both Villa and Andres Iniesta like to start wide and work their way into the middle of the pitch, but their intricacy on the edge of the box was shut down by the likes of Parker and the impressive centre-back pairing of Joleon Lescott and Phil Jagielka.

Without a recognised striker, Spain did not drag England's defence out of position and it was only when Fabregas and Fernando Torres were introduced that the visitors got in behind Capello's side more regularly.

By that time, England were sensing victory following Lampard's 49th-minute header and were also causing a few problems at the other end, with substitutes Danny Welbeck and Jack Rodwell giving added dynamism to their attack.

It was a game in which Capello's tactics and team selection were almost perfect. He gave vital experience to some younger players and the result will give a huge confidence boost to his team after the crushing disappointment in South Africa.

Critics will suggest that few matches will be won when the ball is given away so cheaply. And they would be right.

But a performance and a result achieved without Wayne Rooney, Ashley Young, Jack Wilshere and Steven Gerrard means that England have their best attacking talents to add to a defensive display which was of the highest order.

Compared to the World Cup, the European Championship offers tougher games from the start, and the win over Spain gives Capello an encouraging defensive platform from which to build on.

With less to fear from Sweden, the real test may come from striking the right balance between continuing that solidity while offering more attacking threat.

You can also discuss more tactical issues and follow me on Twitter

Comments

Page 1 of 5

  • Comment number 1.

    Woohoo I'm the first to comment! More seriously, if being defensive will give us more chances of going past the quarter finals in a major competition I don't see why not. But then we need to work more on creativity and finishing.

  • Comment number 2.

    Let's hope England stop playing anti-football so they can hold their heads up.

  • Comment number 3.

    blog is a fair assessment, good defesively, not so hot going forward,

    i think we do need to play this type of game against the very best though as england are just not good enough to attack and dominate no matter what we think, Lescott was brilliant as was Cole and Jagielka, Richards should have been left back but overall great back 4
    midfield did well, liked Parkers play, Lampard did ok and Jones hmm showed some potential, swap him for Wilshere whens hes back and happy days
    i wouldnt mind seeing Sturridge and Welbeck up front together one time, might be a good partnership ..

  • Comment number 4.

    It was the right tactics for the right game. Especially without our more creative players. I don't expect us to play like that every game. But sometimes playing like that is necessary to get a result. What we shouldn't do is get annoyed by the very misquoted comments of Fabregas, Silva and Alonso. Their comments weren't actually that sour and were in some ways constructive. Fabregas even mentioned the fact that we missed our creative influences in Gerrard, Rooney, Young and Wilshere.

  • Comment number 5.

    England's down fall has always been their inability to defend a lead . Although its boring to watch , being a counter attacking side works well against tough competition.

  • Comment number 6.

    The key to me is being able to distribute the ball well, which we didn't do against Spain, and having the pace and skill to launch fast counter attacks so the opposition can't regroup. Only then can you play counter attacking football. Even then it won't work against less ambitious opposition who will simply sit deep and play for a draw. You need a Plan B. Capello said this himself when he said we needed to play completely differently against Sweden than we did against Spain.

  • Comment number 7.

    *right back - doh!

  • Comment number 8.

    @ 2 - Get over it. We played well and did what was necessary to win the fixture. Also had Fabregas not missed that sitter near the end the result could've gone in Spain's favour. Spain are still the best in the world, but we proved that they're not invincible.

  • Comment number 9.

    How else are you supposed to play against the world and european champions? play them at their own game and we'd get hammered! The are still after all the best team in the world (if you ignore fifa rankings)

    All the negativity is pathetic...we beat the best by playing the only way it was possible to!

    Mills....you wont win a tournament by playing like that...Greece would disprove that immediately! It's a nothing result but provides a boost of confidence and proves that Capello is tactically astute!

  • Comment number 10.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 11.

    Very good blog.

    That was an old fashioned English result. Based on defensive solidality, a huge amount of spirit and colossus strength. Yes it wasn't pretty to watch at times as they lost the ball with some stupid decisions. But a win is a win as they say.

    If this was a quarter final of the Euros would we care how we did it??? I don't think so.

    The great English sides have been some of the best at implemeting the Counter Attack that we saw Saturday. We really should not be surpised that the English players looked more confident playing that style, especially when you consider none of the team play outside England where counter attacking is seen up and down the country week in week out.

    It may be the only tactic that brings England success at the Euro's. Crazier things have happened (Greece)

  • Comment number 12.

    Phil's point about giving away the ball is definitely pertinent. I sense that the players are not particularly comfortable on the ball, holding the ball. Improve this aspect and I believe England's chances of international success will be improved greatly.

  • Comment number 13.

    Soul Patch if you're not careful you will have songs sung about you at all England games in the Euro's.........

    Easily the most hated person on BBC at the moment. And it's worse when you're not even making valid points.....

    You poor poor derranged child!!!!

  • Comment number 14.

    #2 The_soul_patch_of_David_ViIla

    Let's hope England stop playing anti-football so they can hold their heads up.
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------
    In what way was Saturday's performance 'anti-football'?

  • Comment number 15.

    Very please with England fans also...not getting carried away like the old days! The press however...they should be banned from commenting...they are the biggest thorn in the England teams side!

  • Comment number 16.

    I wondered how long it would take for you to be on this blog soul patch. The fact you're the 2nd post must mean you have some incredibly itchy fingers to post you're favourite phrases;
    Comedy central
    pub team
    chequebook
    mercenaries
    oh behave yourself!
    ...and endless boring phrases that beef up the uncompetative boring nature of dirty cheating spain and the spanish clubs!

  • Comment number 17.

    13. At 11:20 14th Nov 2011, TonyBlair61 wrote:
    Soul Patch if you're not careful you will have songs sung about you at all England games in the Euro's.........
    _________________________________________________________________________

    LOL! This just made my day :)

  • Comment number 18.

    I think it's certain that the high pressing tactics are not always going to work for England against the best international teams, not against Spain and certainly not against Germany, whose current side have far too much ability to get in behind a high pressing defence. I think there has to be tactical flexibility to accept that man-for-man and as a team England are not going to be the equals of the current best teams on a technical level.

    Against weaker teams we will want to look to the pace, movement and skill of players like Young, Sturridge, Adam Johnson and Wellbeck up front to break them down and the high pressing tactics will still have their use in those games. I think having a player like Jack Wilshere in midfield will be crucial to the success of forward players in those games.

    But regardless of whether we play a pressing game or a counter-attacking one we need to hold onto the ball a lot better and if you're looking for midfielders who can both keep the ball and use it well then I think pairing Scott Parker and Gareth Barry with a more adventurous player like Wilshere might be the way forward. That leaves both Lampard and Gerrard out of the team but for all their qualities that might be the best thing for England after all.

  • Comment number 19.

    13. At 11:20 14th Nov 2011, TonyBlair61 wrote: & 16. At 11:23 14th Nov 2011, Neags wrote:
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    That's not me. Look carefully at the username. It's an imitator.

    However, I do thoroughly concur with his post...

    Please watch out for these imitators, as I do not take responsibility for any views which they may express.

  • Comment number 20.

    I think that the underlying point of this is that if england want to achieve results like this regualrly they need to control and hold the ball better. In order to do that we need to work harder off the ball. Spain were constantly running and moving off the ball. Every time they had it there were a least 3 people to pass it to and not just backwards!!.

    Very few of the Spanish passes were sublime 60 yarders, they were nearly all 10 yards or less. I believe that every england player can pass a ball ten yards with accuracy, what we cannot do is move into space to make that pass easier. To quote the great Brian Clough, "pass the ball and then move into a space where you can get it back" how simple is that!

  • Comment number 21.

    8. At 11:12 14th Nov 2011, magicDarkshadow wrote:

    but we proved that they're not invincible.
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Er... Haven't the USA, Switzerland, Argentina, Portugal and Italy already proved that in the last couple of years?

    Typically arrogant English attitude to try and claim that England have ''proved'' that you can beat Spain in a thoroughly meaningless international, when three other teams have already done so in the last year or so.

  • Comment number 22.

    Fair play that was pretty good!!!!!

    Soul Patch I still stand by my opinion!!!!

    Would not surpise me if you made a second account just too annoy football fans that bit more!!!.......

  • Comment number 23.

    Although the performance itself was not of high quality, I too agree that there are positives to take from the game. For once, England defended with pride, passion and determination and the success of the a strong defencive performance has to be credited to parker, jagielka and lescot. However in attack and pace England failed to threaten enough.
    The likes of walker, cole, walcott, agbonlahor, young, sturridge and welbeck can provide excellent pace going forward and could really hurt even the best defences in the world. If the dynamic attacking abilities of the before mentioned players are utilised effectively, when combined with such defensive resilience England could be a real force.
    The team I would play for England would be:
    goalkeeper- hart
    defence - walker, cahil, terry and cole
    midfield - parker, rodwell and walcott
    attack - agbonlahor, young and sturridge
    In a 4-2-3-1 formation.

  • Comment number 24.

    #19 The_soul_patch_of_David_Villa

    You can see the mistake though. It had the same sort of gibberish that you are noted for.

  • Comment number 25.

    Ramos for me highlighted for me one thing that frustrates me around football and that is perception. The perception that because a Brazilian fires in a free kick it is a wonder goal while if an English player does it is lucky. The problem is that this perception or labels mean certain teams / countries can be targeted. A good example was on Saturday...Walcott was baring down on the Spanish goal and Ramos body checks him...surely a concrete yellow...next Milner tackles gets some of the ball and he gets a yellow....Spain plays some great football but that does not mean they will not try any means possible to win. If I remember the world cup Spain won most games 1-0 and Saturday for me highlighted that this team, contained and counter-attacked can be beaten....Spain is not Barca they are missing the key Messi.....

  • Comment number 26.

    "Less than 18 months ago it was no understatement to say that England's defence was in disarray, as the national team suffered a punishing 4-1 defeat by Germany in the second round of the World Cup.

    So, whatever the merit of the 1-0 victory over Spain on Saturday, keeping a clean sheet against the world champions represents a progress of sorts."


    On the contrary, I find this game represented stagnation if not a backwards step compared to the Germany match.

    Against Germany England created 4 clear chances and conceded 8.

    Against Spain they created 1 chance and conceded 5. Versus slightly better opposition and largely defending a lead but playing at home.

    And employing the extreme version of the 'kick and rush' tactics they were lambasted for back then.

    "Defensive" tactics work when you quieten the opposition's attack or expose them on the break. In this respect England did excellent in the first half when they restricted Spain to next to no chances. In the second though, despite having 10 behind the ball and often defending well individually, Spain were allowed 20? shots and were clean through on goal on at least 3 occasions, so the clean sheet was more down to Spain rather than England.

    The result is totally immaterial and a sports 'analyst' should know this. You have to look at the performance. Were the teams to play again the same way 9 out of 10 these tactics would not have the same end product (akin to Greece winning the Euro), as England would not finish their one chance and Spain would be much more clinical.



    .

  • Comment number 27.

    Spain played pretty football and made some lovley patterns. They took the game for what it was a friendly. England hung on in there and got the result, but i fear if spain had needed the result they would have got it,recent friendlys will tell u what spain think of them NOT OVER BOTHERED ABOUT THEM....

  • Comment number 28.

    A very good result for England ... and i'm scottish!

    Yes they had a few major players out but they shouldn't have that as an excuse due to the amount of players at your disposal. I don't think there was much of a counter attacking tactic going on though. It cerytainly seemed to be the idea but England were so pinned back when the ball was played up to Bent he had no support, not his fault though.

    Looked a much better outfit with the CB's but think Baines and Richards (if he was there) should have been the full backs.

    Against slightly poorer oposition, with Parker and Wilshire covering the defense England should brush past most teams ... but everyone knows they won't!

  • Comment number 29.

    24. At 11:32 14th Nov 2011, MrBlueBurns wrote:
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    What? England (supposedly a ''top'' international team) did play anti-football against Spain.

    They deployed the same tactics that Liechtenstein and San Marino do, and the same tactics that teams like New Zealand also use. Now, it's understandable for very small and weaker international teams to play like this, but England are ''celebrating'' fluking a ''win'' playing the way that Liechtenstein do. Oh the shame!

    If the English had any backbone and pride, they would have gone out there and played football - not cowered away inside their own penalty for the best part of 85 minutes. Oh the ignominy!

  • Comment number 30.

    When did U.S.A beat Spain???

    I remember them going 2-0 up against Spain in the confedarations cup before losing 3-2!!!!

    Soul Patch are you a 'Scouse' fan with these 'Facts' Benitez lover!!!

  • Comment number 31.

    nibs, oh well if and buts...

  • Comment number 32.

    To be fair to the Soul patches, as a neutral I didn't like the way Greece played during Euro 2004 but ultimately we have have to find ways to beat the likes of Spain. This friendly gave Fabio the chance to try something out and it worked.

  • Comment number 33.

    #26 nibs

    You appear to be just statistics, marrying them to your opinion and then presenting them as facts!

    Essentially, England kept Spain at arms length. Spain may have had 20+ chances but, really, does a speculative shot from way out constitute that much of a chance? They can 'tika taka' the ball all they like 40 yards away from goal. We all like to quote these stats, but, how often was Hart troubled into action? Not often from what I recall.

  • Comment number 34.

    Still waiting for Soul Patch to bite!!!!

    He is blatantly a wikipedia artist ;)

  • Comment number 35.

    Patch, how can you say that England aren't one of the weaker teams considering how many pub quality players we have?! One thing for sure is that Pep and Jose are awful managers as they are costing Spain with their respective teams over realiance on Ronaldo and Messi. They need to get the checkbook out quick or they'll suffer.

  • Comment number 36.

    They deployed the same tactics that Liechtenstein and San Marino do, and the same tactics that teams like New Zealand also use.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    There was no need to have any better tactics though, when Spain had David 'Michael Ricketts' Villa up front.

    England > Spain

  • Comment number 37.

    30. At 11:38 14th Nov 2011, TonyBlair61 wrote:
    When did U.S.A beat Spain???

    I remember them going 2-0 up against Spain in the confedarations cup before losing 3-2!!!!
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Your memory has let you down on this one. Sadly there was no 3-goal Spanish comeback. That must be a figment of your imagination!

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/internationals/8114585.stm

  • Comment number 38.

    England did played their part.But the game cant be won just by defending for 90 minutes..AGainst Spain They were just lucky to sneak the goal in. But They need solid offensive tactics to build upon. IF They can defend like this and Start keeping more possession then, definitely they can be the worlds best in a short period. ...COMMon...

  • Comment number 39.

    WEEEEYYYYYYY.... Exactly what I thought Soul Patch you idiot.... I knew what teh score was I was in America when it happened parties galore!!!!!

    But you my feeble friend are clearly an internet browser who has no memory of anything regarding football. You clearly get all your so called 'knowledge' from the net :).....

    Game, Set, Match ;) I do love getting the fish to bite ;)

  • Comment number 40.

    Exactly right, England were technically excellent defensively. Which is mediaspeak for 'excellent', as in 'Germany ripped us apart due to their superior technique in running fast and timing the right pass to exploit the holes we'd left'!

    The tactical side was also, ahem, technically excellent, in that Capello had understood how to snuff out the Spanish thrust, and the number of times England players intercepted or interrupted the Spanish line-breaking passes was telling - he clearly had his team playing for him at Wembley on Saturday evening.

    The big problem playing against sides who advance up the pitch dictating the tempo is that it is the epitomy of attack is the best form of defence, since pretty much the only response has to be to force them to play in front of you closing off the spaces and stopping them threading the ball through you. This means that when you do get the ball they are right on top of you straight away, putting pressure on you in dangerous areas and often forcing hurried clearances. These are usually aimed into the channels or directly up to the isolated centre forward in some vain hope that you can join in on the counter or at least fight for the second ball. There usually is no second ball though, and the defensive shape cannot be broken because the next wave has begun.

    The space against Spain is clearly between their advancing midfield and the defenders they've left on cover. Instead of trying to flood that space with runners joining in on the counter you must first pass into that space and then link up from there, possibly completely the opposite of your natural instinct when under pressure after winning the ball back after long spells without touching it in and around your own defensive third. England's problem (and Manchester United's too) is that the solution doesn't lie at the feet of Wayne Rooney in my opinion. The job needs to go to a continuity player rather than a [perceived] No10, a water-carrier, a player who can play a bit, but who most importantly has the patience to read the movement of the game and block off the spaces for the likes of Xavi to come back out to set up again. Wayne Rooney is many things, but tactical discipline is not a strength of his.

    It was fascinating to see Scott Parker given the holding role on Saturday, playing much the same role Michael Carrick has often been used in for Manchester United during their success over the past 5 years, and it worked quite well, with Jones ahead of him. Spain still kept a lot of the ball of course, because England struggled to clear it with any composure from the back, especially while the ringmaster Xavi was still on the field. But if they could get the ball into [Jones] and play from there I think that could be the solution, turning the Spanish immediately and using pace (Young etc) to chase them back into their own half. Of course, if you have Rooney up the field not only do you have the problem of his growing frustration at being shackled right up against the central defenders, but you also have the problem of making sure you still have a goal threat. The answer is a player like Danny Welbeck. Both he and Rooney can play from wide, they both have decent pace and power, are both technically gifted, and can both finish clinically. Together with the pace of Young, Johnson, Downing and the two full-backs who played on Saturday, England have enough to trouble any side on the counter. The problem against Spain is getting the ball in the first place and exploiting the space is made difficult for that reason alone. The problem against other teams is that that space isn't nearly as obvious, and England's ring craft when they're expected to dictate the play has yet to be honed. The blogger is right though in that at the highest level you must have a solid and clear idea of how you will defend before you can hope to attack with real belief. The Spanish version of that has its weaknesses, as we saw on Saturday.

    Glad to get that out of my head!

  • Comment number 41.

    I see soul patch has still miraculously not been banned for xenaphobia.

    If we stay really still and keep quiet maybe he'll get bored and go away.

  • Comment number 42.

    @23. Assuming we get through qualifiers or rooneys ban reduced AND everyone fit (i'm looking at you gerrard)......

    Hart
    Walker Jagielka Lescott Cole
    Parker
    Wilshire Gerrard
    Wellbeck Rooney Young


    Subs... Smalling, Jones, Bent, Johnson, Cleverly, Walcott

  • Comment number 43.

    29.At 11:37 14th Nov 2011, The_soul_patch_of_David_Villa wrote:
    They deployed the same tactics that Liechtenstein and San Marino do, and the same tactics that teams like New Zealand also use.

    Yes but as we all saw Saturday England players were by far more successful than the teams mentioned above.

    I recall New Zealand getting pounded 5-0, San marino probably faired worse than them so the tactics must have been brave seeing as everyone else who play those tactics lost heavily!!!!

    So Souly what did England do right that the others did wrong???

  • Comment number 44.

    33. At 11:39 14th Nov 2011, MrBlueBurns wrote:

    We all like to quote these stats, but, how often was Hart troubled into action?
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Nobody can deny that - like against Switzerland - the Spanish didn't have their shooting boots on.

    A sizzlingly sensational volley from David Villa rattled the woodwork with the English GK beaten, Cesc missed a glorious chance near the end. Cesc also was clean through but mistakenly opted to square it rather than blast it past the English GK, and, once more, Cesc had a net-bound effort from about 12-yards-out flukily defelecting into the grateful arms of the English custodian.

    That's four gilt-edged chances which fell to two of the best players in the world. It's hard to imagine not one of those going in on another day.

    The point is, people can praise England for their anti-football, but - regardless of how they play - they still have to hope and pray that the Sizzling Spanish pros have left their shooting boots in the dilapidated Wembley dressing-room ,to stand any chance of fluking a ''win''.

  • Comment number 45.

    If the English had any backbone and pride, they would have gone out there and played football

    ---------------------------------------------------------

    That they did, and comfortably won 1-0. Nothing to get too excited over though, Spain are a team we should be comfortably beating considering the Premier League is 1000 times better than La Liga. A fact which was proved true on Saturday.

  • Comment number 46.

    35. At 11:41 14th Nov 2011, Thrashball wrote:

    Patch, how can you say that England aren't one of the weaker teams considering how many pub quality players we have?!
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I know that England are one of the weaker teams. It's just that the English footballing ''fans'' are so enveloped by the tentacles of the Sky Sports octopus, that they don't know just how pub standard England are.

    England are a marginally better version of Liechtenstein. Nothing more, nothing less.

  • Comment number 47.

    A sizzlingly sensational volley from David Villa rattled the woodwork with the English GK beaten, Cesc missed a glorious chance near the end. Cesc also was clean through but mistakenly opted to square it rather than blast it past the English GK, and, once more, Cesc had a net-bound effort from about 12-yards-out flukily defelecting into the grateful arms of the English custodian.

    ----------------------------------------------------------

    You've forgotten David Ricketts rounding Hart before producing another Ronnie Rosenthal moment. That on top of Torres doing the same at Old Trafford.

    Must be a Spanish thing, the empty net miss.

  • Comment number 48.

    Soulpatch stop being so blatantly stupid!!

    You are precisely the kind of person that loves to laugh at England when they get knocked out of a tournament or have a poor match, uttering the usual phrases of your sort such as "Serves all you dellusional english fans right for thinking we can just turn up and have a divine right to win tournaments...the players are overrated.... pure English "arrogance"..." etc etc....

    Here we have a situation where England have accepted certain deficiencies vis-a-vis the Spanish team, and have adapted their gameplay accordingly to try and win. They have a stunning team and for all our positives it would be lunacy to try and play an open game and attack attack attack - THAT, to me, would be "pure english arrogance". So we try and grind out a win, and we do it, and we dont concede a goal.

    Yet for muppets like you, it is just another chance to change your tune and criticise the team, this time for, "playing anti football"

    Damned if we do, damned if we don't. Soul patch, you may get a kick out of winding people up, but I hope you realise what everyone thinks of you.

    One final thing, "small team mentality?" San Marino? New Zealand? How about Man United vs Barcelona in various champions league games when they have tried to close them down... Chelsea too vs Barcelona... and Holland also vs Spain in the worldcup final... oh and Jose Mourinho has adopted that style too for Real Madrid when they play Barca...

    Maybe you should actually start watching football instead of disseminating such utter tripe.

  • Comment number 49.

    Anyone complaining about the tatics used by England should take another look at the result.

    Well done England!

  • Comment number 50.

    Hum. What a surprise. We won when we didn't try to shoe-horn both Lampard and Gerrard into the team. Spain leave Fabregas on the bench, we insist on playing them both. our only real hope is that one of them is injured for the summer.

    Oh, and we don't need Rooney - we win a higher percentage of games when he doesn't play than when he does. Statistics don't lie.

  • Comment number 51.

    #29 The_soul_patch_of_David_Villa

    What? England (supposedly a ''top'' international team) did play anti-football against Spain.
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Firstly, you've spent so long telling us that England are pub standard and then, when it suits your argument, you try to base expectations on them being a top team? As with most of your posts, and your theme and agenda generally, there appears to be little coherence in what you say, let alone any substantive explanation of the points you make!

    Come on, get your story straight.

  • Comment number 52.

    The 3-2 comeback alluded to above was the final, in which the USA raced to a 2-0 lead against Brazil. Then they lost...

  • Comment number 53.

    39. At 11:47 14th Nov 2011, TonyBlair61 wrote:
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Of course, I must have must powers of telekinesis. Silly me for not knowing that you were in the US on the 25th of June 2009(!) And silly me for not knowing that you deliberately got the scoreline wrong(!) :rollseyes:

  • Comment number 54.

    46: So we should be proud for employing those tactics that took us into a pretty routine win. I can't comment too much as I drifted off when the Spainish were playing their defensive keep ball 40 yards from goal. Hart needs to be praised for managing to keep awake!

  • Comment number 55.

    Great to see some of the youngsters get a run out.WELBECK,RODWELL AND JONES, can only help us in the long run,just hoping Capello does this again against Sweeden. Must say though not sure Jones is quiet ready yet for the international stage,last 2 outings he has looked a little out of his depth. Think he should be concentrating a bit more more on club football at the moment. But nice to see a bit of trust beibg given to these players.....

  • Comment number 56.

    46.At 11:53 14th Nov 2011, The_soul_patch_of_David_Villa wrote:
    England are a marginally better version of Liechtenstein.

    Soul Patch...

    I wonder....

    Are you actually a professional footballer???

    Who was so bad you never got the 'England' call you thought you deserved, and now to make yourself feel better you come on here to scorn everything they do???....

    Are you in fact one of the one cap wonders and you feel angry that you got thrown off the heap when you thought you deserved another chance.

    Is your name Alan Thompson or Lee Hendrie????

    It is the only thing I can think of as to why you are such an angry person.

    It could be the fact you are Scottish, or you could be a rugby union/league fan but I think that is too simple!!!!

    Deffinatley a one cap wonder from the 90's!!!!

  • Comment number 57.

    24. At 11:32 14th Nov 2011, MrBlueBurns wrote:
    #19 The_soul_patch_of_David_Villa

    You can see the mistake though. It had the same sort of gibberish that you are noted for.
    _______________________________________________________________________

    Do you not know what "imitate" means?

    Geez! Seriously! I don't know why I let such things rile me... but they do!

  • Comment number 58.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 59.

    I think most matches at every level become about who is considered the better side and they try to dictate the game by passing it around whilst the other side set out to defend and take any chances that come their way. When england play side that would be considered lesser they usually try and control the play.

    englands players aren't as skillful as the spanish so this is a tactical way to win. It the type of play that gets sides like Greece to the title of EC '04 and South Korea to the semis of WC '02.

    It's only when side are on roughly they same level does it become open say Arg V Spain, both sides would try to dominate the other.

    We're not the best team in the world but that doesn't mean we can't win. Remember Switzerland beat Spain in the world cup.

  • Comment number 60.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 61.

    51. At 11:55 14th Nov 2011, MrBlueBurns wrote:
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I thought it was quite obvious.

    England are barely a top 50 international team. Let they - and the Basset Hound fans - believe that they are a top 8 team, because Sky Sports tells them they are.

    While I - and all other aficionados of the beautiful game - know that England is a weak team, the public genuinely deludes themselves into believing that they are a top team.

    Hence why it's bizarre that the English ''fans'' are celebrating fluking a thorughly unmerited ''win'', while playing the ''San Marino way''.

  • Comment number 62.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 63.

    Teams adopt the tactics they need to get a win. If we play Spain in a competitive match, we'll play like this and probably lose. If we try to play them at their own game, we definitely will.

    Spain play more attractive football than anyone else because they can do. They they still use negative tactics when it suits them, like Ramos's body check.

    Who knows, maybe in 15 years we'll be able to play Spain at their own game!

  • Comment number 64.

    #54 Thrashball

    Hart needs to be praised for managing to keep awake!
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    In fairness, the pipe he was able to tug on for most of the game probably helped. I thought he was going to ask for an armchair at one point to complete his comfort.

  • Comment number 65.

    #62.

    Is it weird I like to argue with him on here but I think I could enjoy going out for a pint with the lil guy....

    Seems like a wind up merchant which in my books is top notch!!!!

    QUESTION FOR ALL WHAT SONGS SHOULD BE SUNG FOR SOUL PATCH THE MAGNIFICENT?????

    Rather weird one but what about to the tune of Omarion - ICE BOX.

    'here's just a Soul Patch where my thoughts used to be'

  • Comment number 66.

    #61 The_soul_patch_of_David_Villa

    How's that definition of anti-football coming along, and then how it applies to Saturday?

    Or, are you simply going to convince yourself of it and keep spouting it because you have no better way of getting away from the fact that England kept Spain at bay, to burst your little wet bubbles?

  • Comment number 67.

    The counter attack strategy could work for England, but we need better players in offence than we had against Spain.

    Wilshere and Gerrard can help solve that ;o)

  • Comment number 68.

    67.At 12:09 14th Nov 2011, dogeared wrote:
    The counter attack strategy could work for England, but we need better players in offence than we had against Spain.
    Wilshere and Gerrard can help solve that ;o)


    Yes not to mention the best English player we have available to us in Wayne Rooney!!!! Let us just pray that this group of players manage to get us through to the knock outs without the young man.

  • Comment number 69.

    I think the key point is.....

    Last Saturday, England played in that particular manner because they acknowledged Spain's superiority, in terms of technical skills, abilities and capabilities, etc.

    There is no shame in playing in such a manner, if it allows the team to get a positive result. San Marino do it. So, no shame at all.

  • Comment number 70.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 71.

    @61

    Morning Soul Patch, always nice to hear you ramblings.
    Just to pick you up on a point aren't England in the top 10 world rankings thay are complied by FIFA and not Sky sports as you said?
    The sames stats that have spain as number 2 in the world?

  • Comment number 72.

    #67 dogeared

    Well, they would help. Jones was keen but a few of his outlet balls went astray. Also, Walcott needed to hold the ball when he got the chance.

    That said, the biggest problem was Bent's lack of mobility. There was a good illustration of this in the analysis. He didn't move much. Sure, I can see that he was bored because not much came his way, but, Wellbeck did more than Bent when he came on.

  • Comment number 73.

    @71

    Nooooooooo.....

    Soul Patch saw it on Wikipedia it must be true ;)

  • Comment number 74.

    I think the result finally closes the door on the idea that Terry/Ferdinand are indespensible to the England team, and all for the better in my opinion. With Cahill and Jones looking incredibly promising this England team needs time to settle for 2014.

  • Comment number 75.

    @70

    Greg..... Where are the comments regarding Paul Scholes?

    I do need to see what Soul Patch (Sore Patch as I now call him from this moment on) has said about undoubtedly the most gifted English player of his generation!!!!

    The song has to include Soul Patch in it or he won't have a clue it is about him lol unless we also mention Wikipedia!!!

  • Comment number 76.

    33. At 11:39 14th Nov 2011, MrBlueBurns wrote:

    "Essentially, England kept Spain at arms length. Spain may have had 20+ chances but, really, does a speculative shot from way out constitute that much of a chance?"


    When Fabregas was twice one on one with Hart in acres of space, or when Villa had a virtually open goal -leaving aside hitting the post or Hart's save- England individually or tactically did not defend well at all.

    Even stats less important than clear chances ie. shots from range blocked shots offsides corners and free kicks, law of averages one will go in sooner or later, so the team who produces them will prevail more often than not than the one who doesn't.


    .

  • Comment number 77.

    England played in a 4-1-4-1 formation, with Parker the out-man for the back 4 and the "sweeper" for the forward 4. Hart kicked long because that's what Fabio told him to do; to keep the opposition from piling more resources forward. England sometimes hit "long" balls out of defence because Spain press in numbers and there were no unmarked England players nearer to the ball but it "pinned" some of the opposition back, partially reducing their attacking options, because they always knew that it was coming. Bent was a "lonely figure" but, again, it "pinned" some of the opposition back.

    A very good technical performance by England. More of the same tactics please, against good or bad opposition; watch our consistency improve if we do that.

  • Comment number 78.

    Surely the syle of play is dictated by the level and quality of the opposition, and the the current quality of your own players. The tactics employed by Capello appear to have been the correct ones to win the game with the playing resources at his disposal. It is unlikely that the same tactics would be employed against inferior opposition, which at present includes every other team in the world, and against which England would inevitably have more of the possession (i believe they averaged around 60% in the qualifiers). As Capello himself said before the game -"No team have the players Spain have and so they cannot play like Spain can"

  • Comment number 79.

    Soul Patch!

    Quick question for you.
    Do you feel Spain suffered from not having Puyol at the back?
    Ramos and Pique are very able defenders in their own right but they seemed to lack the composure on skill on the ball that Puyol brings.

    With England playing the way they did this put the ball and at the feet of the spanish defenders a lot more than usual and they didnt seem too comfortable with that.

  • Comment number 80.

    #77 nibs

    Or maybe Fabregas doesn't have the mettle to take his chances when they come along?

    No one is doubting that Spain have a better team, but, does that mean that 'we' should take this result and just cast it to one side?

  • Comment number 81.

    76. Depends really doesn't it. All England needed to do on Saturday was create one chance from about 2 yards out then let Spain pass, pass, pass themselves to death.

  • Comment number 82.

    @ TonyBlair61

    I'm right in thinking you don't like The_soul_patch_of_David_Villa becasue he disrepects England and has a poor view on tactics employed in Premier League etc, as per you comments towards him?

    So why would you make a similar comment "It could be the fact you are Scottish" with prejudice. Why does being scottish make him resent England tactics? I am Scottish and have supported Arsenal for 20 years. I am a huge fan of the Arsenal way of playing football and would have it no other way, but i don't discredit teams for using different tactics. England tactics worked and you won. Discuss the game / tactics, lets not slag another country eh?

  • Comment number 83.

    61.
    At 12:03 14th Nov 2011, The_soul_patch_of_David_Villa wrote:

    51. At 11:55 14th Nov 2011, MrBlueBurns wrote:
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I thought it was quite obvious.

    England are barely a top 50 international team. Let they - and the Basset Hound fans - believe that they are a top 8 team, because Sky Sports tells them they are.

    While I - and all other aficionados of the beautiful game - know that England is a weak team, the public genuinely deludes themselves into believing that they are a top team.

    Hence why it's bizarre that the English ''fans'' are celebrating fluking a thorughly unmerited ''win'', while playing the ''San Marino way''.

    We played the San MArino way and won. Doesnt matter what way you play, England beat Spain. Put it in any form you want. Amuse yourself, your opions and life are invalid and pointless. EPL is better than the La Liga, fact. Spain are better than England. Fact. Spain lost to England, have the "best" players in the world and couldnt hit my wives arse with a banjo.

    A friendly is a friendly, it is what it is, and England Won.. Kisses..

  • Comment number 84.

    It has been established that Soul Patch is a Spanish groupie, now we have TonyBlair61 attempting to start the Soul Patch fan club.

    It's getting more like X Factor every day, 'love ins' and continuous bulls***.

    As for song suggestions, is it solo or group based, nevermind here's a couple,

    We got a get out of this place.
    Heartbreak hotel [thats for Soul Patch after the Euros]

    As we are approaching the Christmas season, Soul, Tony and their gang of luvvies, I feel the best carol would be

    Silent night

  • Comment number 85.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 86.

    Alistair - I suspect that Capello will not have much choice, without Rooney to add those 'special moments' up front England will have to rely on a solid defence, with quick breaks from mid-field and at least one striker up front who has speed (and guile) and can finish effectively; who puts consistant pressure on the back line of the opposition defence by playing 'off the shoulder' of the last man.

    The fact that there will be no Rooney available (at least for the group stages) might actually be a blessing in disguise, because Capello wil be forced into playing to his 'actual strengths' (as against Spain). The problem is that when you play Rooney, to get he best out of him you also have to play other players who are 'on his wavelength'. Rooney at times is 'too fast' with his thinking for many of the other England players; then unless you have such as Steven Gerrard playing with him, or someone like Heskey, to take the weight off him, then you don't get the best out of Rooney.

    The fact that England probably will be forced to adapt a counter-attacking strategy (and tactics) in the Group stages, means we might just be successful; it won't be very easy on the eye and there will be a lot of 'squeeky bum' moments, but it might work.

    After that, Rooney will be available to bring some flair to the England game, but by then we will have our opponents wondering just which England team will turn up... that element of surprise might just work ..... alot of 'ifs' and 'maybe's'....... but with England it was ever just!

  • Comment number 87.

    I am sure the teams with less flair like Itaty 82 and most of the German teams that have gone deep into tournaments (excluding the currentl one) have not got fans back in their countries bemoaning the fact that they have been successful without playing like the Brazil 70 team or like the current Barcelona team.

    A mix of the two would be fantasy football. But having seen England go out in tournaments they could have won - (euro 96 and 2004) I will take a counter attacking sucessful outfit. Of course if you are boring and unsucessful then that is the worse combination.

    I think as unpopular as Capello is as England coach (his club record was outstanding) he will want to go out on a high. And who ever takes over should go with youth in almost totality This will be the last tournament for Gerrard, Lamps, Rio, Ashley Cole

    The team we have in the 2014 will be one to get excited about

    Hart
    Walker, Smalling, Jones, Gibbs
    Rodwell, Wiltshire, Henderson
    Rooney
    Welbeck, Sturridge -

  • Comment number 88.

    When Fabregas was twice one on one with Hart in acres of space, or when Villa had a virtually open goal -leaving aside hitting the post or Hart's save- England individually or tactically did not defend well at all

    --------------------------------------------------------------

    Had it not been a friendly though Spain would have been down to 10 men with Ramos walking. I still can't understand why people think he's good, all he does is foul but because he plays for Real he gets away with it.

    Spain were always going to create chances regardless of how well England defended but with Villa and Torres up front, the odds of the chances being converted are slim to none.

  • Comment number 89.

    Don,t see any negative commecnts about PARKER, all those knockers seem to have gone quiet,i f i remember we were getting comments like he wasn,t good enough and England are i a sorry state if he is the best we have. Well lets give the guy some credit at last,because without him on saturday we would have conceded,the guy does his job in breaking play up and keeping it simple. Round peg in a round hole, sorry to go off subject but think PARKER deserved some credit....

  • Comment number 90.

    Soul Patch sounds like a creationist trying to justify his pathetic reasons for intelligent design.

    People like him just don't understand logic and reason and pump their own agenda on message boards like this. Such a little troll.

    I think England defended really well which is probably the only positive to come out of the game, and the fact we won at home should give the players more confidence.

    Where is he from? Scotland? Wales?

  • Comment number 91.

    The young England lads showed a lot of determination and were resolute. Had the older players been in the team Spain would have won easily. That to me suggests it's time we get rid off the likes of Ferdinand, Terry, Lampard, Gerrard etc.
    Only Ashley Cole and Wayne Rooney should remain from the original 'Golden Generation'. Time to put our faith in the youngsters. This is how the team should line up after Euro 2012.

    Hart

    Richards
    Lescott
    Jagielka
    A. Cole

    Wilshere
    Parker

    Young
    Walcott
    Milner

    Rooney

  • Comment number 92.

    I know Soul Patch is everyone's whipping boy but I'd much rather listen to him than TonyBlair. Christ...

  • Comment number 93.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 94.

    Soul patch seems to be the only one with 2 eyes and a working brain.

    I feel for you Soul, sometimes its hard to reason with arm chair fans that think the game was invented on the park of Isleworth and the rules drawn up by Andy Gray and Richard Keys.

  • Comment number 95.

    84.At 12:25 14th Nov 2011, Londoner in exile returns wrote:

    I think this mans wife beats him!!!!

    Londoner calm down son......

    If you won't to have songs written about you for Wembley then go out there and do something to deserve it. Soul Patch has earned his songs for being teh biggest half wit on teh face of this earth!! What is your special skill???

  • Comment number 96.

    Is he PapaShango in disguise? ;-)

  • Comment number 97.

    #91 Kamana

    No, I don't really see that.

    Lescott and Jagielka were good on Saturday. But, if you're looking beyond Euro 2012 then wouldn't, say, Smalling and Jones be the men?

    Also, I would have thought there would be a front three and these would be something like Young - Rooney - Walcott/Sturridge. (Walcott looked better than Sturridge in the recent Chelsea v Arsenal game but Walcott has his limitations that may not apply to Sturridge.)

    So, who to make up the three in midfield? Hmmm, I'm not sure.. Oh, and A Cole can't go on forever, but, I wouldn't just drop him on principal.

  • Comment number 98.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 99.

    I know I represent a minority but the performance by our midfield, defensively and offensively was poor. If we employ tactics like this, the midfield has to keep the pressure off the defense by;
    a - protecting the area in front of the centre-backs. Something they failed to do as the Spanish repeatedly picked holes between the midfield and defense without punishing us. This had more to do with the performances of our defenders and the poor final approach play of the Spanish than it did our midfield.
    and
    b - they have to retain the ball and allow their team to dictate the areas the game takes place in (at least for some parts of the game)

    The holding midfield role is one that appears to be misunderstood in England. You don't have to tackle. You don't have to run around. You certainly don't drop so deep you become a 5th defender!!! It is a role for a positionally astute player with technical competence and tactical understanding. Parker? Jones? (the latter will be a fine central defender)

  • Comment number 100.

    Soul_Patch - how about you swallow humble pie and admit that your team deserved to lose?!

    Also, how about you show some grace after your comments on a previous blog to the effect of, and I quote:
    "It is physically impossible England will win" etc etc.

    Never mind that it was a lucky win, and England were poor, just admit what a complete plank you were and are and move on!! :)

 

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