England’s World Cup campaign didn’t kick off as planned as their spirited team performance wasn’t enough to overcome the might of the ever-reliable Italians.
But fear not young worriers, a lack of points at this stage is no drama. There was plenty in England’s first outing in Brazil to suggest they have more than enough to progress through their very own ‘group of death’.
With Uruguay and Costa Rica to follow, on paper England are the better side. And whilst football isn’t a game played on paper, the paper can give us a real good indication as to why this group of English players, and you English supporters, should have no fears in the upcoming fixtures.
Everyone knows that passing is the new scoring, right? The statsgasm on Twitter in recent days has been relentlessly positive surrounding England’s showing in their first match against Italy, and the figures suggest this is a side that is progressing. After the first round of group games, England were second only to Italy in the pass completion percentage statistics, and had the highest pass percentage in the opposition half of all teams.
With players like Wayne Rooney, Steven Gerrard, Raheem Sterling, Adam Lallana, and Ross Barkley, England can go into their final two matches in Group D knowing that they have the players available to them to take the initiative, keeping the ball away from the opponents and fashioning out chances by probing in dangerous areas.
Even more stunning is that England’s passing accuracy ranks 2nd, just behind Italy, but ahead of Spain, Holland and Brazil. Go boys!
— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) June 15, 2014
England’s passing accuracy in the opposition’s half is the highest of any team so far. Almost unheard of. — Tim Bolton (@timbolton1) June 18, 2014
England top of the passing accuracy table? As good as that is I’d rather we were top of the group table! Nah that is a good sign though tbf!
— Stephen Charles (@Steve_pafc) June 16, 2014
Against Italy we may not have created the most clear-cut of goalscoring opportunities, but once more the stats showed that England’s 18 shots were more than any other side. Despite many of these not being ‘chances’ as such, the fact the players were willing to work the goalkeeper was a positive thing.
They came up against a traditionally well-disciplined Italian defence, and weren’t afraid to pull the trigger if an opening presented itself. Obviously, their conversion percentage wasn’t anywhere near the best of the sides in the tournament, but you have to assume that neither Uruguay nor Costa Rica will be nearly as sturdy as Cesare Prandelli’s men. If our boys continue showing similar intent, they’ll likely come out more successful than before.
Daniel Sturridge’s goal v Italy, Subbuteo style https://t.co/OM9e4SqO72
— 101 Great Goals (@102greatgoals) June 15, 2014
While the World Cup is all about the best players in the world showing what they can do, England fans and players alike will not want to see Luis Suarez line up against them.
The uncertainty surrounding his knee following an operation a month ago will fill everyone with added positivity. The Liverpool striker was one of England’s biggest worries before the tournament, but having not played since the final day of the Premier League season, it would be fair to predict that he won’t be at his sharpest.
Without one half of their talismanic frontline, Uruguay will be half as deadly. And that can only work in England’s favour.
Never before in recent memory has an England squad possessed so many players with the ability to individually change a game. Against Italy the likes of Rooney, Gerrard, Sturridge and Sterling were on the pitch, wonderfully complemented by the work and effectiveness of Jordan Henderson and Danny Welbeck. With the likes of Barkley, Lallana, Frank Lampard, Rickie Lambert, and Jack Wilshere on the bench, Hodgson has a whole plethora of players to turn to in times of need.
The impressive Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain may struggle to find fitness for the Uruguay game, but he should be back in time for Costa Rica. His direct and powerful dribbling can help change the momentum of a game. We shouldn’t have to worry about our options from the bench.
Having Barkley,Sterling,Wilshere and Chamberlain in reserve is no bad thing for England though.Youthful strength in depth.Big diff from 2010
— manutdfuture (@manutdfuture) May 30, 2014
Quite simply, Italy have been one of the best outfits so far at the World Cup. Their ball retention in midfield is second to none, and their compact defensive shape made them incredibly frustrating to break down. What’s more, they looked to have attacking quality in all areas. Mario Balotelli had a quiet game, but impressed when called upon.
The right-back Matteo Darmian was a constant menace to Leighton Baines, and Antonio Candreva drifted in and out of spaces causing no ends of problems. England won’t face a similar side to Italy again in Group D. Costa Rica and Uruguay are very different from Italy, and have glaring weaknesses in their sides, whereas Italy are well-rounded.
England can rely on Italy to take points from their rivals in the next two games, so there should be no worries about results going the wrong way. The toughest challenge has been and gone. The next two games will be much simpler tasks.
Italy’s passing are superb. Tbh
— Amirul Amani (@AmirulAmani) June 14, 2014