England vs Chile: A little too friendly

November 16, 2013 in International by Lizzi Hollis

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Last night was my first trip to Wembley and first England game. Had the boyfriend not won the tickets I probably would have wished I’d stayed at home. I had fun, especially because we were given Club level tickets so it was rather plush, but as far as our national team go, the football was poor.

England started well and the opening minutes of the game were fast paced and energetic, but any chances made were half hearted and Chile goal keeper Claudio Bravo had turned up in God mode, denying any decent chances. In the 7th minute England paid the price for not putting any chances to bed and some horrendous defending from the usually excellent Leighton Baines allowed the Barcelona number 9 Alexis Sanchez to convert a low header past England debutante Fraser Forster to put the visitors in front. The small contingent of Chilean fans in the corner of the stadium went wild and persisted to make more noise and celebration than England fans would throughout the whole game.

England v Chile - International Friendly

But then they had much more to celebrate. Going a goal behind didn’t affect England’s game too much in the immediate minutes that followed and they continued to press, albeit unsuccessfully, but as the half wore on the game became sluggish with chances few and far between and you got the impression we were relying on set pieces to create chances. Frank Lampard had an opportunity to make the score 1-1 from a long range free kick, but was excellently saved by Bravo. Had Chile had more chances they might have been able to increase their one goal lead but pressure from Forster on the half hour mark forced Jean Beasajour to take a shot wide and England fans breathed a collective sigh of relief.

The second half was pretty dull, England barely had a chance and couldn’t stay on the ball. Crosses weren’t being completed and Chile continued to press although they couldn’t create any decent chances of their own and Forster was not too troubled. What really started to annoy me was the short corners that England took time after time. Leighton Baines was responsible for most of these and I cannot understand why he kept tapping them shortly to players such as the - in my opinion - incompetent James Milner when he could have thrashed them into the area for waiting Frank Lampard, newbie Adam Lallana, Wayne Rooney or the ever eager Jack Wilshere. To me, the short corners showed a lack of belief from the England defender and from someone who is usually so adept at taking set pieces this worries me. Nothing was gained for England from a single one of these corners and every time Chile were easily able to intercept the ball.

England paid for this sluggishness and lack of decent chances in the 90th minute when a defensive mistake from Gary Cahill allowed Alexis Sanchez to chip the ball over Fraser Forster and into the back to the net. I had left in the 86th minute and was informed by BBC Sport of the development as we queued up for the Metropolitan line - Chile had beaten us convincingly and the atmosphere on the tube after was resigned.

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This game may have been an experimental opportunity for Roy Hodgson, to try new players and formations, but it just stood to highlight the lack of desire and real talent within the English team. Fraser Forster did his best on his debut and was not terrible, Adam Lallana too gave a concise performance for his first England appearance, but I was less than impressed with his Southampton team mate Jay Rodriguez who bought virtually nothing to the game, getting his biggest cheer as he left the pitch for Andros Townsend on the hour. Townsend momentarily lifted the England spirits but after that I forgot he was on the pitch. The same can be said for Jermaine Defoe who replaced James Milner 6 minutes later - usually used as an impact sub and generally succeeding in this role the momentary injection of energy was soon forgotten and the game became limp again. Tom Cleverly (the less said about him the better) replaced Jack Wilshere, Chris Smalling came on for Phil Jones and made no impact whatsoever and when Ross Berkley replaced Adam Lallana in the 77th minute I didn’t even notice!

If England come on to the pitch and deliver this kind of performance against Germany on Tuesday they will get absolutely annihilated and any excitement and expectation for next years World Cup will be extinguished as quickly as it began. It’s going to be a long road to Rio if this continues.

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