Sunday, 18 February 2007

My Sporting Moments of 2006 III - 1st July

My 3rd sporting moment of the year is from the biggest sporting event of the year...

World Cup Quarter Final - England 0 Portugal 0 (Portugal win 3-1 on penalties)
England went out of the World Cup 3-1 on penalties after their quarter-final with Portugal ended 0-0. England lost skipper David Beckham to injury just after half-time and Wayne Rooney was sent off after 62 minutes for a stamp on Ricardo Carvalho. They battled on bravely for the rest of normal time and extra-time with 10 men to take the game to a shoot-out.

But Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher missed to end their hopes and Sven-Goran Eriksson's reign. The Swede leaves his post as England coach after going out at the quarter-final stage of a major tournament for the third time in succession and now hands over to Steve McClaren

I think with 6 months passing it will be safe to say this without any threat of treason, but here goes... England were never going to win the World Cup. They just were not good enough in defence. Sure they were good going forward, but good enough to get past good defences. As it transpired other things got in the was of just not being good enough.
For a start, only picking 4 forwards, of which 1 of them was unfit (Rooney) and one of them was not so much a rookie, but still green behind the ears (Walcott). To have Owen break down (in the final group match Vs Sweden) was just the fates telling England, nope sorry not your year son. Also not helping was the poor form of the England midfield. At the end of the group matches England had gone from a 4-4-2 formation to a 4-5-1 formation. This was good, except it was a formation that England had not deployed under Eriksson, not even in friendlies.

The grand irony was that Englands exit came when they had their best performance of the tournament. Portugal were not at their best that day, but still got into the heads of the England players as evidenced by Rooney's frustration culminating in his sending off (above). Their professionalism (translation: diving, cheating and conning) won them little friends, as they were booed during their semi final with France. Further evidence was the fact that 2 of Englands penalty failures came from players with good pedigrees taking penalties.

In the future, England need to put their national team in front of everything else, and prepare properly. Oh and stop building the team up to be supermen.

Overall, the World Cup wasn't very good. Too many negative matches, with few risks taken by the big teams. The best team in the tournament was Argentina, but they lost (on penalties in the Quarter Final to hosts Germany) because their coach Peckerman took off their playmaker Riquelme.

Lets hope South Africa in 2010 is a better spectacle.

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