The Euros confirm the worst for England


Spain won the European championship on Sunday evening and became the first national team ever to win three major tournaments in a row when they dismantled a tired looking Italian side 4-0. The way Spain played in the final confirmed one thing, possession and intense pressing football beats the long ball game, and England national team need to adapt.

Yes Italy were not at their best in the final and that wasn’t just due to their previous long game against England and then the game against Germany, but the way Spain actually played caused them to look like a different side we saw play the Germans.

The simple game that most fans wished their team played but seem to struggle to do. The basic pass and move philosophy of letting the ball do all of the work. The tiki-taka style that has seen Barcelona FC pick up plaudits from around the world since the introduction of Pep Guardiola in 2008.

Retaining possession of the ball until a gap is created in the opponents defence due to a lack of concentration or just high tempo short passing of the ball just outside of their opponent’s box. To counter the way they play many teams try to flood the middle of the park and get the whole team behind the ball, but in turn that creates space out wide and with players like Xabi Alonso and Xavi Hernandez in the side it’s not hard to find a player in that space.

Roy Hodgson’s side seem to struggle at times to keep the ball when they were presented possession. On many occasions throughout the tournament they would win the ball back in their own half and just punt it down field to the strikers, which on a number of occasions was intercepted and the ball came straight back. The players must try to look up to find options and play the ball from the back, instead of just booting up to the top men.  

The only way England are going to play in such a way is if the coach can get them to be comfortable enough on the ball to do 1 touch passing in the tightest and most difficult situations. As Spain and Barcelona continuously show, to play against a team who controls the pace of a game with their passing is very difficult to beat.

It’s beautiful to see the way the Spanish players can find these gaps in other teams that don’t seem to be there, but their defending seems to be just as good.

When they do finally loose the ball and the other team have possession they work just as hard to get the ball back. They get two players hustling around the ball and the others shut off all passing options, leaving the player with the ball in trouble and under pressure, which usually ends in the loss of possession or with the player going all the way back to the keeper.

England on the whole were quiet good defensively in all four games they played at the Euros but to become a contender in the next European competition they’re going to press all over the pitch with the intent to get the ball back just like the Spanish. If they can do it successfully then they would become an even harder team to break down which is something that Roy Hodgson has aimed to do. Their work rate needs to be through the roof.  

Hopefully, in the years to come England can adapt their game and become a force to be reckoned with on the international stage.

Jordan Brown

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