Monday, 28 March 2016

England vs Netherlands

Pre-Match Analysis:

2014 brought some great joy to the Netherlands fans across the world, having finished 3rd in the World Cup hosted by Brazil. However, it seems their luck has come to an end. Netherlands manager, Danny Blind, has failed to secure a spot for his country in the Euro’s meaning the game won’t be as crucial for Netherlands as it is for England. Whatever happens, it is almost a certainty that the game will be packed with action.

England’s recent game against World Cup winners Germany was full of emotions as Roy Hodgson’s side won 3-2 after being 2-0 down after Mario Gomez scored in the 57th minute. Tottenham youngster, Eric Dier scored in the final stages of extra time to give England the win and a boost of confidence going into the game against Netherlands.

England goalkeeper, Jack Butland is likely to miss the Euro’s due to a fractured ankle he suffered in Saturday’s game against Germany. This unfortunate incident puts England in an even tougher position having lost, yet another solid goalkeeper. Despite this, England still have a very strong attack, with players like Jamie Vardy and Harry Kane, who both scored against Germany. The attack offers pace, skill and is full of goal scorers, so will this injury have a massive impact on the whole teams’ performance? With England and Manchester United captain, Wayne Rooney injured, can his side once again prove that they are a force to be reckoned with? England manager, Roy Hodgson has said that Rooney is still a major part of his 2016 Euro’s despite beating Germany without him. Dele Alli played a great game against Germany however Hodgson still believes that he must improve.

Netherlands manager, Danny Blind will need make some very careful considerations when selecting his side. England played very well beating World Cup winners Germany in Berlin, who will now have a major confidence boost. His side is very capable, but will need to play at their very best to beat the England side whilst they are in great form.

The Netherlands have a very strong side, with attacking players such as Memphis Depay and Huntelaar. It is argued that Memphis has been playing very poorly however, he is fully capable of stepping up and becoming his sides’ key attacker. The Dutch side also have a strong midfield with Wesley Sneijder and Wijnaldum. These midfielders are well rounded and capable of creating an attack from nothing. If these two start, the English players will need to be very careful when they get the ball. The defence is arguably the weakest part in the Netherlands team however with Ron Vlaar and Daley Blind, they are still capable of stopping great attackers. Tottenham goalkeeper Michel Vorm has been added to the squad alongside Marko Van Ginkel, ahead of the clash with England. These two strong additions could prove worthwhile for Danny Blinds side.

Line-Up Analysis:

As many of us had expected Roy Hodgson has rung the changes for the game today, with only Smalling, Lallana and Rose retaining their places in the starting 11, Rose will be picking up just his second cap, after gaining many plaudits following his stellar display in Berlin.

Forster will be starting in goal, following Jack Butland’s injury which appears to have ended his hopes of making an appearance at Euro 2016, the injury could not have come at a worse time for Butland who in the opinions of many has been the best goalkeeper in the Premier League after finally becoming Stoke City’s first choice. Partnering Smalling in the heart of defence will be the young John Stones, with many arguing that this should be our first choice partnership heading into the European Championships .As previously mentioned Rose has retained his place at left back, whist Walker will be coming in at right back, the Tottenham pairing are certain to be a great threat going forward, however it would take a truly sublime effort from Walker to seriously put a question mark on Nathaniel Clyne’s place in the starting 11 going into France.

After bringing his international career, post the European Championships into some doubt, with comments in the past week, in which he explained that should he not be part of Hodgson’s future plans he may call time on his England career, James Milner will have the honour of leading the three lions onto the pitch against the Dutch, in what may prove to be his Wembley swansong. Joining him in a midfield four will of course be Liverpool team mate Adam Lallana, as well as the incredibly promising Ross Barkley, who many hope will play a key part for England in the years to come. The final member of the midfield quadruple will Danny Drinkwater who will be making his England debut, on the back of Leicester’s meteoric rise to the top of the tree in the Premier League. Although there are no out and out speedsters in the midfield Barley and Lallana will bring some pace with them, whilst the true strength of the four lies in their technical ability which they hope will help them carve their way through the Dutch Defence.

Leading the line for England today will be Daniel Sturridge, who has really struggled getting any game time over the past year and a half, having had terrible luck with injuries, Sturridge will know he must stay fit until the Euro’s if he is to be a key part in the plans of Roy Hodgson, given the wealth of options the England boss has in his armoury. Starting along side the Liverpool man will be Leicester’s tally man and Premier League player of the season contender Jamie Vardy. With his amazing but unexpected performances this season appearing to have sealed his place on the plane to France this summer. The striking pair will pose a great threat in behind the defence today, but will not have quite the same danger in the air as someone like Harry Kane.
 

First Half Analysis:

A simple start to important game and it seems England have casually cruised through the first half of their second game in this current international weekend. There has been a clear improvement since previous games barring the Germany game just a few days ago. The implementation of Leicester midfielder, Danny Drinkwater has produced dividends that were most definately missed. The team has shown good structure and have held the Holland XI in the centre of the field. 

The creative attacking players created chance after chance but seemed unable to capitalise on said attacks. Luckily the Netherlands attacking force were seldom able to get a shot on goal and this was due to the fluid and solid England back line. As the game began to drag on the tides turned on Netherlands as finally one of England plays worked out and through the inventiveness and initiative of Adam Lallana put in Walker who played in, the one and only, the best premier league player this season, Jamie Vardy who scores for fun and score he did. Tucking the ball neatly into the roof of the net to send England into the second half with a one nil lead and high hopes.


Second Half Analysis:

After the goal from Vardy in the dying minutes of the first half and the triumphant win in Berlin, there was great cause for optimism coming into second half, however in typical English fashion, our Three Lions had built our hopes to once again let us down.

England made an encouraging start to the half as they countered a Dutch attack, only for Sturridge to have his shoot saved from keeper Jeroen Zoot, just moments later Lallana missed the target after being set up from Ross Barkley. Then, still in the early stages of the second half Holland were controversially awarded a penalty, as Danny Rose was penalised after a Dutch cross hit his hand, the penalty was given despite it being quite clear that Rose had been trying to move his arm away from the ball. Despite the appeals from the English players, the penalty was given and Vincent Janssen coolly dispatched the penalty , sending keeper Forster the wrong way. It continued to be a quite affair until the second half, as both sides played the game in the typical fashion many international friendly’s are, the goal itself came in the 77th minute in controversial circumstances, as the England players felt Jagielka had been fouled just moments before the ball went into the back of the net, with the commentators stating that had the incident occurred outside the box a foul would have been given, but play went on allowing Luciano Narsingh to smash the ball home and with it bring England fans back to reality and perhaps squash the expectations of the public, there were to be late efforts from England with Harry Kane’s long shot going just wide, but they proved to be in vain. The match petered out as the Dutch held on, in what was a sombre affair, the game itself certainly not a memorable one. England lost, as many of us have become accustomed to, but this may prove to be somewhat of a gift for Roy Hodgson’s men as the result may relieve some of the expectations of the fans and therefore in turn relieve some pressure as well.


Individual Player Analysis:

Forster

6.5/10. Dictated his defence well with his vocal attitude, although he was powerless to stop the two goals, one from the penalty spot and one from a poor cover of the back post.

Walker

6/10. Played a good game, but at times his tackling and his passing was inconsistent. The second goal was partly his responsibility for being too far drawn out of the situation.

Rose

7/10. In hindsight of the loss, Rose played well as a left back whilst converting to a winger to provide very difficult crosses, one that led to Vardy’s goal.

Drinkwater

6.5/10. Decent debut for a starting defender. Defended the 6 yard box with ease, although his mistakes in the hand ball leading for the penalty was far too easy. Overall however, a decent debut nonetheless.

Smalling

7/10. His dominating physical presence was a trouble for players including Memphis and Wijnaldum, although he was partly to blame for the lack of vocal discipline as the commentary team mentioned for the second goal.

Stones

6.5/10. Underperformed on his debut. Ultimately began the loss of the lead with his slip, only reminiscent of Steven Gerrard, yet only on a friendly stage. At times his passing lacked consistency, although in general he appeared to be very focused and persevering in the game.

Milner

5.5/10. Although Euro 2016 may be his last international debut, nothing particularly about his performance convinced many that he should be given his last hurrah. Although he captained the team, there was very little output for his selection and very little to justify his own performance, apart from the vision for the first goal consisting of a pass to draw out the middle of the Dutch midfield.

Barkley

6/10. Similar to Milner, Barkley lacked the ability to bring anything forward into Wembley. His opportunistic creations were consistent, although his weak understanding of the game suggested nothing more than a very tired and disgruntled representation for his starting position today.

Sturridge

7/10. A very good attacking display from Sturridge by setting off Vardy on counter - attacks and a good awareness of switching play in order to stretch the defence. His only real problem was getting past of the defence with his speed, although this is in hindsight with his previous injury struggles.

Vardy

8/10. Although on the losing side, Vardy was undoubtedly today’s best English performer. His runs behind the defence to penetrate the back 4 and his awareness and positional skills for the first goal showed nothing more than the quality that should be sufficient for a place in the Euro 2016 squad.

Lallana

7.5/10. The second best England player today, Lallana showed a good attacking intent, which was represented none more than in the first goal where instead of taking the shot, he managed to recognise Kyle Walker’s run to lead to the cut - back for Vardy.

Overall Analysis:

Today’s game proved a key point in the young England’s team development towards Euro 2016 - consistency is necessary even after a landmark has been achieved against such a team, including the currently reigning World Champions.

The goal by Vardy displayed a fine attacking philosophy that Roy Hodgson, current England man-ager, has tried to put a stamp upon with this team which is reminiscent of the Fulham era where he led them to the Europa League final in Hamburg all those many years ago.

The short passing ultimately led to the easiest of openings for many opportunities, and showed a glimpse of the future and the potential that this England team could easily grab if they put their mind to the game.

However, the defensive frailties still lie in the England squad. A successful yet correct handball ap-peal means that more work needs to be done to prevent England’s magnificent attacking philoso-phy to be undone so easily by one simple decision.

The second goal, however, could be argued as a foul although Drinkwater could have cleared the ball to avoid the delay - the push a reminder of Podolski’s goal against Bayern Munich at the Alli-anz arena in the 2013/14 Champions League Campaign. Drinkwater’s failure to avert the danger in an era of football where decisions are becoming increasing harder to give had led to the ultimatum of the tie swinging in the Oranges’ favour.

Not to take anything away from the quality of the Dutch’s second goal, but the cover on the back post was weak, which could be none the further exaggerated when no player was within 5 yards of the goalscorer.

England have a bright future. To achieve it, they need to maintain a high standard, not slip into the trap that one game ultimately seals their destiny in Paris.

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