I certainly didn’t see it coming, but somehow England managed to sneak a 1-0 win against World and European Champions Spain on Saturday.
Cue the ridiculous number of people foolishly claiming we were now the “unofficial world and European Champions”. “Surely if we can beat Spain, we can beat anyone” I heard people say straight after the game. Expectation for this England team has always been inflated to the extreme (we were supposedly meant to have won the last 2 World Cup’s with our so-called ‘Golden Generation’) but this result is only going to make things worse. This result will be the catalyst of a media overload in the build-up to Euro 2012, claiming that maybe, just maybe, this is our year. But let’s be realistic, England won’t be crowned European Champions in Poland and Ukraine this summer, as much as it continually pains me to say it. Maybe it’s a lack of technique or maybe just a lack of self-belief, but either way when it comes down to the crunch time in Euro 2012, just like against Germany in the World Cup 2010, England will be blown away…
The result and a determined defensive effort aside, the problems that have dogged England for some time now were still quite evident throughout the game. Whilst everyone appreciates the fact that this Spanish team are a freakish exception, in terms of an exemplary technique that towers above any other team in the world (it’s no coincidence that over half of Spain’s strongest side come from that rather decent club team by the name of Barcelona), it was shocking to see how far behind England’s players are in terms of technique and composure. On the very few occasions that England were granted possession of the ball, the only thing they seemed able to do is slowly pass the ball backwards towards Joe Hart in goal, who would then proceed to launch the ball over the half-way line, where possession would be immediately given back to the Spanish team. There were points where I started to feel sorry for the isolated Darren Bent, trying to chase down the ball on the Spanish carousel.
It was interesting to hear an observation before the game yesterday that out of the entire England squad only John Terry and Wayne Rooney would get into Spain’s RESERVE side, yes that’s right, their RESERVE side. Whilst you may or may not agree with that statement, it’s hard to see more than a handful of England’s players getting into any of the other so-called ‘Elite’ teams such as Germany, Holland or France. Would Lampard play instead of Ozil or Sneijder. Perhaps James Milner instead of Ribery or Robben? I wouldn’t have thought so, and there lies another issue for the England team, a lack of stand-out players with enough flair or technique to cause the other team any problems. The signs for the future are promising, with many of the younger ‘continental style’ generation finally getting the opportunity to show what they can do with the likes of Wilshere, Jones and Cleverley.
However it will still be a few years before we see the best of these clearly gifted players, and so I just can’t see England winning a major competition any-time soon, despite what the press, football pundits and increasingly terrible England tournament songs might say…
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