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World Cup 2018

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Croatia is no one to ever take lightly, I repeat what I said at least once early in this thread. In 2014, they were in Brazil's group in the group stage and there was their game vs. Brazil where I think pretty blatantly, the refs helped the homeside. You lose one game in the group stage, then, you can't afford any more errors. They were robbed in 2014, but hey, it goes around.....they aren't the only ones.  Some comeback.

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5 hours ago, jim mk2 said:

It gets worse really. Croatia has a population of 4m, fewer than the number of people in Lancashire, not 8m as previously stated. It's the smallest country to reach the WC Final.  And we're patting ourselves on the back for getting to the semis. 

Thats has no impact at all and very arrogant comment imo. 

Look at the quality of the players Croatia have and the top clubs they play for..

4 hours ago, Mike E said:

China has 1.2bn people and not a decent footballer among them. Ever.

Population is irrelevant imo, esp in an age where inherited nationality counts for a lot.

Agreed Mike

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Silly when folk say ‘well what about China and India, they are massive’

No history of being a football centric nation. Croatia is, and their continued success is remarkable.

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4 hours ago, Commondore said:

I appreciate that any tired player could make a similar mistake, but I do wonder if a traditional, out-and-out centre back would have sliced that ball like Walker did.

Walker was having a stormer right up until the goal. Then he ended being at fault for both.

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For an hour we looked to have the game in the bag but we never got the vital second goal we should have.

 After that the defence lost its composure and Croatia deserved its win.

Amazing achievement for a country of only 4M people.

On to the Euros.

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England's biggest problem is that we lack intelligent footballers. You need a mix of technical athletes (which we have plenty) and intelligence -football intelligence.  They are trained to do this and that but can't do anything outside the box or react to formation changes quickly.  A Modric in the middle and a Beardsley up front would do wonders for this side. 

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7 hours ago, bob fleming said:

I’m an optimist mate. I think I will be.

i enjoyed this one. It went a bit ott after the Sweden match, but overall I think Southgate has been superb. 

This group of players, keep them together, keep the manager. They’re all young and learning. Team spirit goes a hell of a long way. Success breeds success.

City bought Mahrez today by the way. That’ll be half a billion quid in two years he’s spent. I can’t wait to get back to the Premier League. It’ll be fantastic. 

Take the money out of it and it really is the best game in the world. 

Where does City signing Mahrez leave the likes of Phil Foden ?  Young English players in key positions who won't be getting game time at the expense of foreign players.

Edited by Tyrone Shoelaces

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11 minutes ago, Wing Wizard Windy Miller said:

England's biggest problem is that we lack intelligent footballers. You need a mix of technical athletes (which we have plenty) and intelligence -football intelligence.  They are trained to do this and that but can't do anything outside the box or react to formation changes quickly.  A Modric in the middle and a Beardsley up front would do wonders for this side. 

I was thinking about Beardsley the other day. Just what we are short of. We aren't producing this type of player any more because we're bringing them in from abroad. We'd nobody out there with the " X " factor, somebody who could do something different.

Edited by Tyrone Shoelaces
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25 minutes ago, joey_big_nose said:

The stats tell a pretty damning story. I have to say I am surprised just how much in favour of Croatia they are. It looks like were totally overwhelmed.

http://www.skysports.com/football/croatia-vs-england/stats/385230

Bizarrely I might watch the game back in replay. Why I'm not totally sure.

In the second half we were overwhelmed.

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What a clutch goal their 2nd goal was, right? Off of the player's left foot and into the goal. I doubt if that was his main foot. I hope they have something left in the tank for the final and they surely, are resourceful enough.

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Just now, Audax said:

What a clutch goal their 2nd goal was, right? Off of the player's left foot and into the goal. I doubt if that was his main foot. I hope they have something left in the tank for the final and they surely, are resourceful enough.

I'm expecting France to be 2 goals better on Sunday.

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Head to head, H2H, before this match, they had played 7(?) times, England won 4 times, Croatia 3. I question whether they had played that few times.... but those matches show it was fairly even already.

https://us.soccerway.com/teams/comparison/?team_ids[]=514&team_ids[]=774

UEFA Nations League, Croatia scheduled to play England 2 times in the near future.

https://us.soccerway.com/international/europe/uefa-nations-league/20182019/league-a/group-4/g12057/

In October and November, 2018.

I'm not familiar with this "Nations League" at all.

 

 

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Just now, Tyrone Shoelaces said:

I'm expecting France to be 2 goals better on Sunday.

Did you have any comment on the 2nd goal by Croatia itself? Pretty outstanding.

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22 minutes ago, Tyrone Shoelaces said:

Where does City signing Mahrez leave the likes of Phil Foden ?  Young English players in key positions who won't be getting game time at the expense of foreign players.

It leaves him nowhere. My fourth sentence in that post was sarcasm.

England reached the semi finals in a World Cup for the first time in 28 years despite the Premier League, not because of it.

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15 minutes ago, Audax said:

Did you have any comment on the 2nd goal by Croatia itself? Pretty outstanding.

The scorer took the chance well  but it came from a comedy of errors by England and a pretty fortuitous header.

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The first half went to perfection, other than not taking the extra couple of gilt edged chances we created to give us a bit more of a cushion. Despite the formation, we played like an English team of old, knocking it forward to exploit the pace of Sterling. Croatia sat deep because of this and it was noticeable that Modric, easily man of the match, was less effective.

I spoke to a mate at half time and mentioned to him that being 1-0 up, early in a game, isn’t a good position to be in. It is if you are a quality team yourself because you should be able to deal with it but in England’s case, it would only lead to Croatia pressing us and would we have enough to handle that.

Come the second half, they did just that. They pressed us by playing further up the field. They started passing it better and crucially started to retain possession. Modric, never out of the game before, suddenly controlled it and must have covered every blade of grass. What a player. 

One of my ongoing criticisms of English players is that we still can’t play ourselves out of trouble when in tight situations. You always here from fans stuff like, we like to get the ball down and play, or we’re a passing side etc etc. Yes, we’re better at it than previously but when you watched Croatia, they showed us just how to do it. As the second half wore on, when pressed at the back, we resorted to kicking it long to relieve the pressure. We lost possession time and time again because of this and were constantly chasing the game. That’s why Croatia looked fitter than us towards the end and it shouldn’t have been like that as it was their third game on the trot where extra time was involved.

Overall, a good tournament from England and some element of national pride restored. We are a young side that can only get better and in Gareth Southgate we have an astute, young manager who seems to have a good relationship with the media.

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Just now, Claytons Left Boot said:

The first half went to perfection, other than not taking the extra couple of gilt edged chances we created to give us a bit more of a cushion. Despite the formation, we played like an English team of old, knocking it forward to exploit the pace of Sterling. Croatia sat deep because of this and it was noticeable that Modric, easily man of the match, was less effective.

I spoke to a mate at half time and mentioned to him that being 1-0 up, early in a game, isn’t a good position to be in. It is if you are a quality team yourself because you should be able to deal with it but in England’s case, it would only lead to Croatia pressing us and would we have enough to handle that.

Come the second half, they did just that. They pressed us by playing further up the field. They started passing it better and crucially started to retain possession. Modric, never out of the game before, suddenly controlled it and must have covered every blade of grass. What a player. 

One of my ongoing criticisms of English players is that we still can’t play ourselves out of trouble when in tight situations. You always here from fans stuff like, we like to get the ball down and play, or we’re a passing side etc etc. Yes, we’re better at it than previously but when you watched Croatia, they showed us just how to do it. As the second half wore on, when pressed at the back, we resorted to kicking it long to relieve the pressure. We lost possession time and time again because of this and were constantly chasing the game. That’s why Croatia looked fitter than us towards the end and it shouldn’t have been like that as it was their third game on the trot where extra time was involved.

Overall, a good tournament from England and some element of national pride restored. We are a young side that can only get better and in Gareth Southgate we have an astute, young manager who seems to have a good relationship with the media.

Excellent considered summary.

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One way to think about it is if England were a club side who would you change across the team. For me I think really only four players.

Walker - huge credit to him coming in and doing a decent job in unfamiliar role, showed incredible recovery pace, but ultimately got shown up as a full back playing at CB. There's a lot of decent centre backs coming through so we will have options.
 
Young - did far far better than I thought he would at the tournament. However is now 33 so end of his international career. We need to bring in a new left back.  Again lots of options coming through so not a massive concern.
 
Lingard/Alli - I would say realistically we can't play top teams with both of these on at the same time. They are number 10s, not centre mids in a midfield three. Plus in the final analysis they are just not of the highest quality. If we genuinely want to be competitive at the top table we need a midfielder (or ideally two) who can mix it with Modric, Pogba,  Kroos, Kante etc. This is a huge problem for England as there isn't anyone coming through who even remotely fits the bill. Shelvey is probably the most promising of a poor bunch, but he's miles from the top players. Oxlaide-Chamberlain is a worker like Henderson. Would make us more solid but wouldn't raise the quality.
 
Sterling - for a striker who scored no goals had an okay tournament. But it's pretty clear if we had someone who could finish as well as the pace and movement then we would be a far more successful side. The obvious candidate is Rashford but his goal scoring record is as poor for England as Sterling's. To kick on he needs to move away from Utd  - ideally abroad - to where he can be the main striker and prove that he can do it. Outside of him there aren't to many top options.
 
To sum up key things are to find a couple of midfielders and a striker. We can definitely build and improve for 2020, but unless we can find real first rate talent in those positions we will always be a second tier nation in the odds.
Edited by joey_big_nose
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The first half was excellent but missing those chances cost us.  Croatia went in at half time knowing that they could/should have been out of the game.

Second half they just used their experience and know how to slowly take control of the game, they pressed us and we could not deal with it and whereas previously we were composed we started to lose the ball in dangerous areas and our full backs got pushed back so we were effectively playing a back 5.  Maybe Southgate could have looked at swopping to back 4 and playing with traditional wingers just to stop the Croatian full backs from coming forward. 

All in all this tournament has exceeded my expectations.  2 years ago we lost to Iceland and previous to that we played a brand of football that was outdated and made even poor teams look good against that.  Southgate has found a formula that we can use to go forward, these players can be the core for the next 4-6 years in addition you would hope that a few players from the excellent Under 17's and Under 20's with the likes of Foden, Sancho, Dujon Sterling, Cook, Solanke and Calvert-Lewin all showing promise in addition to other players who missed out because of injury like Joe Gomez we have a lot to be positive about given where we were after Euro 2016.

The other thing that this side have managed to do is bring back some national pride, their performances on the pitch and they way they and Southgate handled themselves off the pitch has made bought this often divided country together over the last 4 weeks and given us something positive/hopeful to cheer and that in itself is a huge achievement.

 

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3 hours ago, Tugay's Right Foot said:

Not sure about that, I think Modric is talking nonsense. I don't think anyone was taking Croatia lightly, and if they were motivated they certainly didn't show it in the first half. Their dominance in the second half came about simply due to a combination of tactical nous from their manager and a lack of response from ours. That said...

Defender Sime Vrsaljko was also critical of England’s attempts to find a way back into the game after they fell behind. “The all-round perception was that this is a new-look England who have changed their ways of punting long balls upfield but when we pressed them it turned out that they haven’t,” he said.

I have to agree with this. When Croatia began putting pressure on us we started punting it up the pitch like nothing had changed. Multiple times last night during the second half I noticed that nobody was showing for the ball, and if players are no longer willing to receive a pass the end result will ultimately either be a hoof or a loss of possession. It wasn't just the Croatia game either, in almost every game this tournament we've had a moment passing it around at the back where we've lost possession dangerously, mainly because of a lack of options passing wise. It's very noticeable that when the likes of Lingard, Alli and Sterling no longer want the ball the three of them will stay as far up the field as they can, leaving Henderson, Young and Tripper to try and find a way up the pitch (hint: not going to work very often). This is what led to Kane dropping back so far towards the end of the Colombia match. His three supporting attackers had lost their courage and didn't want possession anymore. 

This is why I don't buy into the media constantly pushing our "new identity". Yes we pass it around at the back, but it's led to as many dangerous situations in our own half this tournament as it has our opponents. We've created very few chances from open play. Most of our goals have come from penalties and set pieces, which contrasts against the supposed identity we've gained. We're a long way off establishing anything yet. At no point in this tournament did we ever look as dangerous as Croatia did against us in the second half last night - that's what we should be aspiring to. Once we can play like that then we can start crowing about new identities, philosophies, and whatever else. 

 

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I should note that whilst my above post sounds a little negative, it's worth remembering that we only really started playing our current system during this tournament. For whatever reason we didn't play this way during the qualifiers, hence the low expectations going into the world cup. If we stick with this system and work on improving the parts that aren't quite working there's no reason we can't be much stronger come Euro 2020. There is a framework here and we need to stick to it. 

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