Saturday night left a bitter taste in every England fan’s mouth. So close and yet so far for the Three Lions.
The 1-1 draw meant that England’s next game against current group leaders Wales is a must win, if it wasn’t already.
The feeling from the fans is one of major disappointment and disdain for the sloppiness of the goal conceded.
However England played well and there were lots of positives so here’s 5 things that we learnt from England vs. Russia.
Eric Dier can take free kicks
Who knew? I certainly didn’t and Dier is fast becoming my favourite England player.
The England team and staff have come in for some justified criticism over the players taking set pieces i.e. Harry Kane taking corners. Why is our most potent goal threat not in the box having an influence in the set play.
That’s a story for later but had it not been for the team experimenting with set pieces we would not have seen Eric Dier plant a screamer past Akinfeev in the Russia goal.
This revelation will give both club and country something to think about over free kicks around the box and can only be a good thing.
Also, Dier was 33/1 with William Hill to score first yesterday. Well done to anyone that backed that.
England need to be more ruthless
Despite dominating stages of the game yesterday England barely offered a goal threat and bar the Wayne Rooney shot around the hour mark the Russian Keeper was barely tested.
Many players had chances, especially in the first half. Dele Alli, Adam Lallana and Wayne Rooney all spurned opportunities which could have killed off the game early and allowed England to dictate play.
The Three Lions must be more ruthless against Wales and Slovakia and realise that a one goal lead in International football is not enough.
Russia must improve too
Moving away from England for a moment, Russia were not that good last night.
Before the tournament most would have said Wales were the next best team in the group but I have always felt Russia were very well organised and tough to play against.
On last night’s performance though I think I was wrong.
Russia allowed England a lot of space to run at them, Kyle Walker in particular benefited from this in the first half. But also attacking wise the Russian’s barely offered anything before their goal.
They will look at this as a good point though given the circumstances but if they wish to progress in the tournament something has got to change.
Roy got his subs wrong
From the 30th minute on-wards cameras were panning to Leicester’s Jamie Vardy warming up and looking eager to come on and help his country.
Did he get that chance? Nope!
Instead of giving the Russian’s something to worry about with 10 minutes to go Roy Hodgson went very negative and brought on James Milner.
James Milner is a fine player no question but surely Vardy’s pace, intelligence and eye for a goal would have benefited the side more than another midfielder to invite pressure.
Some may say that Roy was shutting up shop but if that were the case why not bring on another defender?
Some may also say that going too attacking leaves us exposed at the back but I say attack is the best form of defence and England conceded anyway so that isn’t true.
We all know Vardy would have at least helped run the clock down if he felt he couldn’t score and simply give the Russian defenders a headache.
Roy’s negative move caused the negative result.
England need more leaders
England have never won an opening European Championship match, it’s a fact.
This hoodoo dating from 1968 continued last night and the general opinion was ‘oh not again!’
England fans have got used to disappointment over the years and this new younger squad promised a stronger mentality and for the most part they delivered.
Up until the last 5 minutes however. England had a lack of leaders on the pitch and despite Wayne Rooney being criticised pre-tournament he actually played well.
The problem was that when we needed a calming influence and an older head, Roy had taken him off.
So who were the younger players going to turn to? Joe Hart? James Milner? There isn’t a name that stands out unfortunately.
And behold Russia’s goal came from slack defending and a goalkeeper caught in ‘no-mans land’.
There are potential leaders in the squad however, Eric Dier for example. But he’s a future leader.
England need them now.
Forget all the doom and gloom. England actually played very well, they just to work on the fundamental basics to grind out results and be more ruthless.
I hope Jamie Vardy gets a start against Wales and I hope Roy doesn’t persist with changing tactics every game; that won’t help the team find fluidity.
Come on England!!!
images (Yahoo Sport, telegraaf.nl, squawka.com, Zimbio, gazettaworld.com)