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It’s an all European success
England has already improved its shortfalls which seemed never-ending since it won the 1966 World Cup when it hosted the tournament.
The arrival at the starting block for a place in the final may even have surprised the diehard fans, who are all now poised to shout their hearts out for two consecutive victories.
The quality of the team’s matches varied, not from game to game, but through portions of each match when its share of moderate passing, supported by long aerial “hail Mary” passes with the hope of reaching the feet of Harry Kane and Sterling.
England achieved penetration and goal opportunities as its best options at set plays, especially corners which brought the absolute brilliance of McGuire and to a lesser extent Delli Alli.
I am reluctant to express my observations as far as the general performances of Kane and his team.
It was probably the first time that an England team had struggled to put together a team which seemed not to be structural, but they banked heavily upon individual performances in order to gain goalscoring opportunities.
While I congratulate the team for its resilience in all matches, there were moments when some of the team’s opponents appeared as though they would find gaps in their three-man defence, all of whom were competent individually, but struggled to communicate well enough to give the resemblance of solidity.
The Columbians bemoaned the fact that their downfall may have been caused by infringements coming out of player clashes and was interpreted by the officials (both the refs and the VAR).
While the English had improved its speed levels against Sweden whose stereotypical pattern of play seemed solid, but inconsistent, Sterling and Lingard gave them hope, while the team’s main ball winner Henderson joined into the process of assisting Alli and Young by creating some attacks along the flanks.
Corners and free kicks were responsible for the team’s best efforts at goal which resulted in headers for Mcguire and Alli, both well executed from crossed balls, good enough to take them into the semis.
Croatia will have to dig deep into its endurance levels, plus some astute midfield work by Modric, Rakitic and Rebic, while the flankers Strinic and Perisic will give striker Mandzukic some semblances of a goal or two. It did not happen.
Surely, the thought of yellow cards handed to Lovren, Vida, Pivoric and Strinic, while the host country only received one in Gavinski.
However, after a few days’ rests, the Croatians appeared to be strategically sound and the maximum use of their key contributors may well place enormous pressure on the three back system of Walker, Stones, and McGuire.
Could the English return to the glory of 1966? If it does, it will have to be an amazing improvement from the team’s earlier matches. Let us wish them well.
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