5 Things England Need To Do Better

So England are finally through, but despite the overflowing emotion and the paeans from commentators, did they really play well? Certainly they played with a lot more passion and commitment – the heart was all there. But technically, England will need to improve dramatically to get anything out of the Germany game. Here are 5 areas:

  1. Possession: England were excellent without the ball – they harried and won the ball back, and were resolute in defence, but when they had the ball, they were poor. Only 2 or 3 players look comfortable on the ball. The others treat it like an explosive substance and are looking to get rid of it as quickly as possible, the further the better! Possession is 60% of the game – and England must improve in this area.
  2. Passing: there are 2 simple rules to passing – when passing to a moving player, you pass in the direction of movement so that the player can reach the ball without breaking stride. And ideally every pass should be constructive. Not just an aimless one because somebody’s near. England do neither. Invariably the pass is just behind the moving player and often there’s a pointless back pass which breaks the tempo of the attack.
  3. Receiving: this is the area where technique really let England down. Every time the ball was received, it bobbled, bounced and seemed to have a life of its own. The pitch wasn’t the best but it wasn’t to blame for poor control all the time. Every time this happens you lose half a second and give the opposition more time to get at you.
  4. Movement: Watch Spain play. Every time a player has the ball, there are always players creating passing options around him. Continuous movement around the ball creates opportunities for continuous passing. When an English player had the ball today, he was invariably looking for options and not seeing enough. Either players are running away from the ball rather than towards it, or there’s one player, often static and behind the ball for a back-pass.
  5. Conversion: Goals win games. Chances need to be taken. In a world cup, even half chances need to be taken for any hope of glory. No amount of chances equals a goal unless you actually score one. England must hope they convert more chances starting against Germany, as the number of chances created will start to drop against better and better teams.
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