Wednesday, June 21, 2006

In-Ger-Land Blew It Once Again...

England 2 - 2 Sweden

ENG - J. Cole (34 min), S. Gerrard (85 min);
SWE - M. Allback (51 min), H. Larsson (90 min);

My lord, what's wrong with the English really. They were quite brilliant in a few moments and then they could crash down to earth in another few moments. The record that Sweden hold, that is the 30 odd years of being undefeated by the English once again stood and was nearly ended by Steven Gerrard's header near the end of the game. But Sweden exploited England's weakness in defence and paid off with Larsson scoring just before the Swedish thought the record is going down the drain.

To be honest, they couldn't have wished for a worst start when Michael Owen fell awkwardly and replays showed that his right knee gave way. Latest news is that he'll be going for a scan tomorrow and I can tell you, it's not looking good. Peter Crouch came off the bench to take Owen's place and after England stamped their authority in the game, they began their flowing attacks on the Swedish defence and Joe Cole certainly caught my eye. He caused all sorts of trouble for the Swedish right-back and created spaces for other players. His hard work paid off when he scored an absolute belter that makes everyone sit up and watch. Sweden cleared a corner as far as Cole and after he chested the ball, he went for a volley and the ball sweetly strucked, dipped into Andreas Isaksson's top left corner. And then on England found their confidence and playing at a good rythmn.

Frank Lampard on the other hand, looks wasteful and it makes you think whether all he did in a football match is to stand outside the penalty box and wait for the ball to roll to him and then hit it and score by some freakish deflection. And everytime single time he had the ball at around that area, you knew where it's gonna end up. It's so frustrating sometimes that he's wasting chances and possesion and he never does any playmaker job at all. Owen Hargreaves though, looked like he's out to silence all critics and I must say he's one of the better players in the England shirt the whole night. He worked his socks off and breaks up the opponent's attack well.

But I have no idea what Svennis said to the England players at half-time and they came out a different 11 players I supposed. They struggle to keep the ball and constanly caught out at the back. A miscontrol by John Terry leads to a corner and you guess it, Sweden scored from the resultant corner. Marcus Allback, who used to play in England scored from a near post flick on and Sweden are back in a shout.Clearly, England struggled a bit after half time and never got their momentum going. Joe Cole was marked-out for the second half and Beckham was annonymous.

Sven then took off Rooney for Liverpool captain, Steven Gerrard. Rooney was fuming and was visibly not pleased by Sven's decision. But he did his best and looking at Owen's injury now, Rooney is England's only hope and I think Sven got that right. After Gerrard got on the pitch, England seemed to settle down a little more and you could see it coming. Beckham floated in a perfect ball into the back posts and Gerrard was there to pounce and his header rocketed into the top corner. And he has officially become England's top scorer in this World Cup.

Their joy was short lived though. Everyone could tell you that if Sweden is going to score, it's definitely gonna come from a set play and indeed, England's nightmare was 'fulfilled'. They had been struggling in corners and freekicks for the entire second half and there were a few close shaves for England. Olof Mellberg hit the bar earlier and Steven Gerrard's first touch of the game was to clear the ball off the line and saved England. But this time it was down to pure comedy from the English defence, who seemed to be the strongest of all English departments. The ball was floated into the English box and panic ensued. Sol Campbell thought he had it covered but flapped and did a ballerina on the spot. Paul Robinson was stucked to the ground and Ashley Cole for no apparent reason, ran and blocked Robinson's way. Larsson was behind Campbell, got a touch to the ball and it went into the bottom corner with Robinson diving despairingly and Cole shell-shocked. It has to be one of the softest goal conceded in this World Cup.

The English defence, usually so solid and stable, were being found out by the Swedish tonight. It didn't help too, when Rio Ferdinand was being taken off for Sol Campbell. They panicked everytime Sweden had a corner and were very lucky to escaped with only 2 goals conceded. Not only that, but England needs to understand that a football game is not a sprint, but a marathon over 90 minutes. They started off with all guns blazing and then were given a good hiding after that. Ball retention was alright in the first half and then it all went haywired after that.

Seriously now, Owen looks like he's gonna be out for the World Cup now isn't it. How Sven regret not taking Defoe, Bent, Ashton or even Harewood. If anything's gonna happen to Rooney or Crouch, they're left with only Theo Walcott and he's gonna make a difference, doesn't he? Right.

At least they still have David James! HAHA.

Elsewhere: Paraguay 2-0 T&T

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