Sunday, 16 November 2014

England 3 Slovenia 1 - Euro Qualifers


I sat down on the Saturday night to watch England play against Slovenia. In European football, there are not many easy games anymore and Slovenia are worthy opponents in this day and age. They have a good side with some high quality players. 

The game started and Slovenia packed out the defence and managed to frustrate England all through the first half, denying England a shot on target. I have to say that Slovenia looked like a side waiting for an opportunity to exploit - not some low grade side playing on chance. They seemed like they had a game plan, which appeared could work. The longer England came up against that brick wall, the more frustrated they would get. However, England remained calm and plugged away doggedly to the first half whistle. Both sides left for the dressing room at 0-0.

The football panel had Ian Wright, Lee Dixon (former England players) Also Glen Hoddle - a former England manager. They spoke of the lacklustre first half and Lee Dixon gave due credit to Slovenia for the defencive way they contained England. Glen Hoddle rightly pointed out that England would have to become more creative because Slovenia would get at least one chance in the game - maybe more. We could get caught on a counter and Slovenia looked like a side with that skill.

The second half started with a little more positive assertiveness from England and the began to get closer to testing Slovenia's goalkeeper. However, Slovenia also looked more adventurous and seemed to have a different outlook for the second half too. They managed an attack and caught England when England defender, Jorden Henderson deflected the ball into his own net giving Slovenia a 1-0 lead. It was as Glen Hoddle predicted. The law of averages decreed that a side of Slovenia's worth would create chances. They did and capitalised on some sloppy England defending.

Fortunately, almost straight away from the centre kick, England's Wayne Rooney got the ball and dribbled into the Slovenian penalty box and was brought down. The skipper scored from the spot kick and levelled at 1-1. Slovenia's lead had lasted less then two minuets. Suddenly England looked more invigorated and they began to pile pressure upon the deflated Slovenia side. What followed were more chances from which, came two more goals, from Danny Wellbeck.

I thought the result was a good one and it did take the goal to liven England up. However, I think the lacklustre first half was also due to Slovenia packing out the defence. Other opponents in this group have tried the same thing. To Slovenia's credit, they did well in the first half, but in the second they tried to come out and be more creative. They managed to steal a goal, but lost the opportunity to stay ahead very quickly. It was certainly that old cliche about a game of two halves.








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