Why England Gets Better After Every Game
Why England Gets Better After Every Game
The Three Lions will contest their first World Cup semi final in 28 years after seeing off Sweden 2 – 0. Not only have they become an attractive side to watch, they are improving after every match. Our guest analyst from the EFL looks into the reasons why.
This team is comfortable in possession
Prior to this game, Sweden had, quite rightly, received considerable praise for being exceptionally disciplined out of possession; their rigid 4 – 4-2 formation requires co-operation, co-ordination and teamwork, all of which are underpinned by a tireless work rate to keep opposition teams at bay.
Sweden were again happy to have very little of the ball. In the first 30mins of their encounter with reigning champions Germany, Sweden enjoyed only 27% of the ball and then against Switzerland, they operated with only 32% of the ball all game and simply looked to unsettle their opponent.
Our Sportscode output window below shows that Sweden held a much more respectable 45.4%, but England held the ball on average 1.9 seconds longer per possession and completed 126 more passes, this showing England’s ability to get on the ball and play.
John Stones is essential for Southgate’s England side as he has the quality to start plays from the back. Stones passed the ball at 93% accuracy in the match.
England responded to Sweden’s defensive tactics well
Sweden set up to disrupt and it was clear from the way England built their play through the defensive and midfield thirds that they would offer a serious threat in wide areas.
With no Swedish press to contend with, England wingbacks Young and Trippier needed no invitation to get forward in support of the team’s attacks. The fullbacks completed 11 crosses between them in the match and were a constant threat on the overlap.
Sweden’s offensive strategy was to play direct, but this again played into England’s hands due to the aerial dominance that they enjoyed in this match.
Harry Maguire lost just one of his 11 aerial duels and fellow central defenders Walker and Stones completed another 19 between them.
England are adapting and learning as they go deeper into the competition
Forego the press — England opted to not press from the front and instead set up with for a mid block out of possession with the wingbacks dropping in to form a back five with Kane and Sterling providing England’s first line of defence.
This forced Sweden into long aerial passes that were easily mopped up by Maguire, Stones and Walker. Sweden defender Krafth was their match leader in long passes with 14.
Trusting their build up play from the back – Sweden initially set up very high to prevent England playing out. To counter this Henderson dropped in to form a double pivot with Stones – a move that would give England 5 vs 3 around their penalty area — the numerical advantage here gave sufficient passing options to allow England to play their way out.
Kyle Walker led the way in total passes with 75. Sweden’s highest passing defender was Lindelof with only 40. Massive contrast.
England are utilising their formation to the fullest
For the 3 – 5-2 formation to be at it’s most effective, it essentially relies on having two wingbacks who can operate on both sides of the ball effectively.
Both Trippier and Young have really brought this role to life during this World Cup and were are standout performers against Sweden.
Our Sportscode head to head output below shows they completed 19 crosses between them, while also completing 12 defensive actions combined.
The most impressive statistic shown is that 100% of their balls in the attacking third were accurate.
If the fullbacks can find this width against Croatia, they can definitely cause them trouble given the aerial prowess the England players have demonstrated in this World Cup so far.
A strong performance to get two goals against a Swedish side that are known as extremely resolute, England surely would have been thankful to score in the first half which caused the Swedish to take a few risks when they needed to chase the game.
Sweden did eventually change the tempo of their play as they went in search of an equalizer and would have scored had Jordan Pickford not been in such outstanding form in the England goal.
While Sweden were somewhat predictable, Croatia are unlikely to spurn the same opportunities and possess a range of attacking threats such as aerial (Mandzukic), dribbling (Perisic) and playmaking (Modric). It will be the sternest examination of England’s defence so far, with the intensity level surely much higher given their group stage meeting was a game with far less on the line.
England have become an attractive team to watch, but it’s very important that they stay true to the possession-based style that has got them this far.
The Three Lions are learning and improving with every match. Now that they have learned their strengths, it’s simply up to them to execute against Croatia to give the best chance of victory.
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