Half-time subs Vardy and Sturridge scored to inspire England to a comeback 2-1 victory over their neighbours Wales, earlier sensational Bale free-kick had Wales ahead at half-time.
Roy Hodgson started with the same lineup that featured against Russia. It raised a few eyebrows as England looked pedestrian in attack that day and starting Kane ahead of Vardy/Sturridge also elevated the concern.
The shape was 4-3-3 with Dier as defensive midfielder, Rooney and Alli as wide midfielders in support of Dier; Lallana, Kane and Sterling were the front three unchanged from the last game. Doubts were raised about the inclusion of Sterling as the winger didn’t had the best of season with Manchester City and looked short in confidence. But, Hodgson as always trusted his 11.
Let’s now take a look at why England struggled to breakdown Wales in the first half and why Kane and Sterling were ineffective today :-
As we see in the image above, the positional mistake from likes of Sterling and Kane allowed Wales to defend quite astutely in numbers. Wales play in that 3-5-2 shape which means once they are defending, they are 5 at back and two wide midfielders also tracking back, what that meant is never allowed Sterling time and space in that wide areas and he always looked like being marked. Sterling never likes to cut inside and be flexible with his movements, this pretty much played into Wales’ hands and they constantly marked the young winger with either of the three centre-back or fullback, this made the Manchester City man pretty much ineffective. Missed opportunity earlier in the game also didn’t help his cause.
Kane, on the other hand was quite pedestrian in his movements, he sometimes dropped himself too deep to get involved in play which left the Welsh box with no English player attacking, a centre-forward dropping deep to be involved in the game doesn’t sound too good. To be honest, he doesn’t have the speed and mobility to really run in behind the Welsh defence who were happy defending in-front of their back-line and with no in behind runs.
Now let’s take a look at how subs Vardy and Sturridge impacted the game in the second half and eventually scored to win a game for their country :-
As we see in the image, there was change of position for Lallana, Vardy occupied that striker role, Sturridge occupied the right side of forward line. The introduction of Vardy meant pace and in behind direct runs which can cause problems to any defence. There were very clear signs of how England are gonna operate at the start, intricate passing in between the lines or a long ball towards Vardy who is always playing at the shoulder of the opposition defence.
There was one instance when a long ball arrived towards Vardy who took one defender away just because of his pace and running in behind ability, what that did is allowed likes of Alli, Sturridge to exploit that gap (as shown by the circle) and create goal-scoring opportunities.
Sturridge too had an impact in the second half, the other inspired change by Hodgson. His ability to be flexible in that forward line always makes him a difficult guy to mark constantly. He runs with the ball and has the license to go anywhere which creates chances for other guys to join the attack. His ball keeping and intricate passing with likes of Alli and Rooney was a highlight. Eventually, he scored the winner with some intricate passing with Vardy and Alli.
So, Hodgson overall must be pleased by the way his team responded in the second half, never easy to come from 1 goal down and win a game in international stage. The manager did made some questionable decision for the starting lineup but was quick to realise how impactful Sturridge and Vardy can be and eventually made the change which proved to be a match-winning one.
One other topic that will be elevated – are Kane and Sterling good enough to start or has Vardy and Sturridge taken over them? A question which can only be answered by Roy Hodgson but the implications are there now.
By Mizgan Ahmed on 16th June, 2016
Twitter – @mizgans