England's breathtaking win against Colombia on penalties was a sign that this Three Lions team has the character to go far in this tournament. However, Colombia troubled them at points and it took some lessons from earlier in the tournament to tactically adjust for this match. Our guest analyst takes a look at how this took place.

How did Colombia disrupt England in the first half?

England had more of the ball (51.4% to 48.6%), and created seven attempts on goal (compared to Colombia's 4), but despite this statistical dominance it was Columbia who were the happier side at half time. 

The Group H winners limited the Three Lions to just 1 shot on target in the opening 45 minutes, which came from a dead ball situation. 

Essentially Colombia stopped England from creating a single clear cut chance from open play in the first 45 minutes.

Columbia prevented England from finding their stride in the first half? Numbers behind the ball defensively.

Colombia worked hard to get numbers behind the ball quickly. The sheer numerical advantage that the South Americans possessed in their own half made it difficult for England to find time and space on the ball. In addition, Columbia’s Wilmar Barrios won the ball nine times in the midfield, more than any other midfielder in the match.

The physical approach of Colombia's midfield was obvious to an eye-witness, and was backed up statistically with Barrios committing a match-high seven fouls, with Carlos Sanchez also committing three.

Sanchez and Barrios competed furiously for knockdowns and second balls in the centre of pitch and did a solid job of denying England comfortable possession in the first half.

Columbia worked hard to get numbers behind the ball, as can be seen here with Barrios, Lerma and Sanchez stationed in front of the back four.

What did England learn from their defeat to Belgium?

When out of possession, England opted to drop to shape rather than press for the ball immediately.

The press approach worked well against Tunisia and Panama, but against Belgium, England’s press was disjointed and largely ineffective. 

Wingbacks and midfielders found it difficult to lock on and support the press and then recover to defensive shape when Belgium played forward. 

England again played their 3-5-2 shape, but opted for a midfield block out of possession with the wingbacks Trippier and Young dropping in to form a back five with Kane and Sterling providing England’s first line of defence.

England's 3-5-2, which was executed slightly differently in transition, with the fullbacks forming a back five rather than pressing for the ball.

England also showed an ability to break the second line of defence when building play from the back. 

In possession, they made a conscious effort to rotate positions to ensure the player in control of the ball had at least two, if not three, passing options. 

The fact that the back three of Walker, Stones and Maguire completed 97, 92 and 93 per cent of their passes across the match shows that options were making themselves available to receive the ball and passing was accurate.

Our Sportscode output windows shows the possession advantage that England enjoyed, as well as the positive nature of their play, as they completed more forward passes, total passes and average time with the ball per possession. 

Colombia's commitment and tenacity in the midfield can be shown in the below window by how they held a sizeable advantage in ground duels won, and overall tackles won.

The Sportscode output window shows England were more useful with the ball, but Colombia did their very best to disrupt them.

A work-on for England

England occasionally lacked fluidity in transition and at times failed to get players in the right position to break lines. 

On several occasions in the first half, Maguire and Stones played direct to Kane but with no midfielders supporting as options. 

A possible reason could be that Dele Alli was playing injured and was slow to move into useful positions in transition, but in situations like this, Kane was forced to play backwards and territorial advantage was lost.

Passes like this will be cut off by better teams that have a world-class player as a holding midfielder. N'Golo Kante or Brazil's Casemiro are two players that fit this mould and will likely be playing at the business end of the tournament should England make it that far.

Harry Kane was often isolated. He needs support beneath to set the ball (in box). On this occasion he returned the pass to the back 4 and the attacking threat was lost.

Star player - England's unsung hero 

Barrios was tireless in the midfield, but as a central midfielder in a defensive-minded team, this is basis of his role.

However, Kieran Trippier matched Barrios' defensive output with 12 defensive actions in the match,

Trippier was also more economical in his approach, conceding only two fouls to Barrios' seven.

England's right back was also a threat down the flank, swinging in seven crosses. He topped off a great match by scoring an unstoppable penalty in the shoot out.

Kieran Trippier produced an outstanding performance on both sides of the ball.

Post match review

A great win for England in a match that could have gotten away from them when conceding a last-minute equaliser. 

The decision to defend in shape with the wingbacks reverting to deeper positions in transition was a great tactical shift from Southgate given Colombia had dangerous players such as Falcao and Quintero who would have caused issues had the opposition broken the press used earlier in the tournament.

The decision for Southgate now ahead of Sweden is which defensive system do they use against a weaker team than the one they just faced? Press or defend more passively?

Accuracy in possession will again be vital. The distribution of England's back three will again need to on point to pick apart a team likely to sit back and take their chances as they come.

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