Thursday, February 7, 2008

England 2-1 Switzerland

Stale England underwhelm Capello
England limped through this underwhelming friendly with a stale, patchy performance, as they struggled to adjust to the 4-1-4-1 formation that Capello had asked them to play. Of the starting eleven, the two Coles, Joe and Ashley stood out. Ashley Cole made eye-catching forays forward, while Joe Cole was the only one of Englands midfield who had any effective attacking intent. However Steven Gerrard and Gareth Barry initially struggled with the formation, though improved as the game went on and by the end were looking a lot more comfortable. Elsewhere, David Bentley had an encouraging game, on his first start for his country, growing in stature as the game went on. David Beckham may well stay trapped on 99 caps for a while yet.
England, in the second half, had a more of an effective attacking look to them, however they conceded a sloppy equialiser. This was swiftly redeemed as the lead was soon re-established. Wayne Rooney, in the lone-striker role he doesn't like, all in all had a good game and assisted in the winner from substitute Shaun Wright-Phillips.

England's initial disjointed display must have alarmed Capello and Switzerland almost grabbed an opener when a Hakan Yakin free-kick was knocked on Senderos, with Eggimann to heading wide. If they had scored it would not have been a surprise at that stage. However England grabbed a surprisingly good opening goal just before half time. Gerrard found Joe Cole who provided a cut-back for Jenas to grab his first England goal.

After 58 minutes, Switzerland levelled, with a  great pass from Tranquillo Barnetta catching Rio Ferdinand out as the substitute Eren Derdiyok got in front of him to finish past David James. It took only four minutes for England to regain the lead, with Gerrard taking a Rooney pass, to pass inside for Wright-Phillips to finish in an open goal.

Overall an average performance from England, that got better as the game went on. The initial struggles with the 4-1-4-1 formation wore off as they settled into the game. Still lots to ponder for Mr Capello if he is to make England competitive with the best the world has to offer.



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