A Draw that leaves both sides wanting for more
France 1 England 1
Samir Nasri (39’) Joleon Lescott (30’)
After Last night’s game, it is really amusing to see the reaction of the English fans. With very low expectation this time from their National team, the result can’t make them too unhappy. However, the way England players approached the game bound to leave the fans disappointed. It is not possible to tell whether Roy Hodgson set out his team to play in such a insipid manner or they got into a shell under sustained French pressure, the football produced by the Three Lions was more than below par. The French tried to create things but for all their effort, they lacked the sharpness in the final third.
The game started on an even note with both teams sticking to their manager’s philosophy. England were solid in their back and always looking for opportune moment to hit the French on counter. On the other hand,the resurgent Le Blues controlled possession from the word ‘Go’. Supported by the excellent partnership of Yohan Cabaye and Alou Diarra in the midfield, the quartet of Ribery , Nasri, Malouda and Benzema tried to create openings. Specially Nasri and Ribery were quite effective in their quick interchange of position and working between the lines. But for all their effort, France couldn’t create distinct clear-cut chances , English defence was rock solid with Joleon lescott being in the form of his life. In between England were close to getting a lead as Ashley Young slipped in a ball behind the French defence and James Milner perfected his run but only to be denied by his horrible finishing. Eventually they took the lead when Lescott headed home an accurate Steven Gerrard delivery from the right. Hit by this sudden blow, the French intensified their attack and kept on probing the English defence. Joe Hart made a tremendous save of a Diarra header to keep his side’s lead intact. But six minutes before half time, Blues got their equalizer from an excellent Samir Nasri strike from outside the box. It was a well planned move that the English defence couldn’t anticipate. The first Half ended with the French team being clearly the better one with the English trying to settle down. When more action was expected in the 2nd half, it turned out to be quite an anemic one. Although the French tried to maintain their momentum, they were thwarted by their opponent’s well drilled defensive organization. England, on the other hand, appeared to be happy being sitting back and absorbing the French pressure with none of their attacking players being pro-active in getting their side forward. Steven Gerrard who could have been the player to drive them forward spent the entire half helping out his defence. Also the managers of either team waited too long to change things. Roy Hodsgon brought in Jermaine defoe for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, the teenager tried his best to make things happen but lack of support did not allow him. Laurent Blanc too brought in fresh legs in Marvin Martin and Hatem Ben Arfa but things didn’t change.
Before the match, Roy Hodgson said that he doesn’t want his players to let him down. Surely the last night’s performance wont let him to breathe easy. TheThree Lions surely have to improve quite a few notches if they really want to make a mark in the tournament. With Wayne Rooney back in the side, probably the team’s dynamics will change a lot, he will make the light weight forward line much more dangerous but before that, England has a game to play against Sweden which will be very crucial for their chances of qualifying from the group. France will look forward to build on their good start. They have to create more definite chances because there is no point in keeping the possession for so long if they can not threaten the opponent’s goal. Probably Blanc has to work out on how to use the excellent reserve bench that is available if things aren’t working with his first XI. At the same time, the French defensive line has to be more cautious as it can prove to be their Achilles heel against more dangerous attacking teams.
FRANCE : Hugo LLoris; Patrice Evra, Adil Rami, Phillipe Mexes,Mathieu Debuchy; Yohan Cabaye, Alou Diarra ; Franc Ribery , Samir Nasri, Flouent Malouda ; Karim Benzema
ENGLAND : Joe Hart; Glen Johnson, John Terry, Joleon Lescott, Ashley Cole; Scott Parker, Steven Gerrard, Ashley Young, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, James Milner; Danny Welbeck
“This gives us a good platform. Hopefully we’ll get fitter. The more we train and get matches under our belts the fitter we’ll become “
Roy Hodgson’s after match thoughts
“I think we played much better than England, but in the end it was a draw and we are a bit frustrated. They played in the way that Chelsea played against Barcelona. “
Patrice Evra’s dig at England strategy