England are through to the semi finals of the World Cup for the first time since 1990. That’s 28 years of wait for a football crazy nation. The so-called “golden generation” has come and gone but it’s this young side helmed by Gareth Southgate that has done it.
The English are well-know for their “boring” style of play: long balls, crosses, defensive tactics, set pieces. Long have they tried to steer away from this stereotype. Why though? This style seems to be working with the current crop of players. That’s partly due to Southgate encouraging them to play to their strengths. If it works, use it!
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This England side also has a good reason to favor long balls since they have some very pacy players upfront who can run behind defences. Harry Kane, Sterling, Lingard, Rashford, Vardy and even Welbeck – these are players who are very fast. Another strength in this team is their ability on set pieces. Harry Maguire scored against Sweden today. Sweden, a very defensive side with giants at the back, is the last side you would expect to suffer from set pieces but England are very dangerous in that area.
The Three Lions have been lucky in terms of their route to the semis. Panama, Tunisia, Colombia and Sweden are not actually footballing royalty. All the big nations were on the opposing side of the bracket. In contrast, France have had to beat Argentina and Uruguay and now face Belgium. The latter have had to go through Brazil to get there. In comparison, England has an easy ride. But again, they can only play against what’s put infront of them.
Should England make the final, they will not have an easy time against either France or Belgium who, on top of having all the qualities England posess, can raise them one with defense splitting attacking plays and more individual talent.
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