There was increased media scrutiny on Raheem Sterling in the buildup to England’s World Cup campaign and it it is fair to say that the Manchester City flier did not produce his best performance in the 2-1 win over Tunisia.
The African outfit were set up to frustrate and after England’s initial period of dominance, in which Sterling, Dele Alli and Jesse Lingard buzzed about and created chances at will, they did exactly that.
Gareth Southgate’s preferred system essentially incorporates three number 10s, but where Alli and Lingard have license to burst from deep, Sterling is constantly starting higher up before dropping in and that appeared to hamper him up against such a low block.
Nevertheless, as the scrutiny builds on his performance, it is important to note that he did manage to embark on his fair share of dribbles and made two chances, given limited opportunities operating in the most congested area of the park.
He was not the only England player to struggle to reproduce his absolute best club form in the Three Lions’ opener and there is every chance he will improve against Panama; he just needs a bit of breathing space.