England’s stodgy passing restricts Vardy as changes disrupt rhythm


first_imgShare on Twitter Share on WhatsApp Did the selection backfire?This all seemed rather wasteful. Gareth Southgate’s decision to rest eight players, regardless of the fact Belgium made nine changes themselves, had always risked disrupting rhythm. The manager’s reasoning had apparently been born more of faith in the collective rather than predicting where the tournament would take the team much further down the line. Maybe the anti-climax of defeat will pass quickly. Losing here has thrust England into a favourable half of the draw but only if they quell the considerable threat of Colombia, a side finding their feet, in Moscow on Tuesday. Japan seemed more tempting opposition for a team who have won only two knockout games in the World Cup since 1990. features Read more Topics Share on Messenger Read more World Cup 2018 Share via Email Share on Facebook England 0-1 Belgium: how the World Cup 2018 players rated in Kaliningrad Was this a reality check?Southgate argued not, given qualification was assured and his favoured selection will be fresh and ready to train on Saturday in preparation for the game at Spartak Stadium. He will hope they click back into the old routine swiftly, with this a blip that has been forgotten. Yet the wait goes on for England to defeat a team ranked higher than them at the finals. The last was Argentina in 2002, and the group might have benefited psychologically from defeating even a weakened Belgium lineup. Stones, with heavy strapping on a calf, had appeared a concern, but the plan had always been to rest him for the second period. That is a relief given he was excellent, with one notable block on a Michy Batshuayi shot catching the eye in particular.Are England using Vardy’s strengths?Not all the back-up options seem quite so convincing. For all that it seemed wasteful to leave Harry Kane kicking his heels on the bench, there had been a theory that Jamie Vardy might be the forward to wound Belgium. The Leicester forward could sprint into space between wing-backs and centre-halves and prove potent on the counterattack. The problem here was too much of England’s delivery to him was rather stodgy. His partnership with Marcus Rashford briefly flickered into life but Vardy ended up looking rather forlorn. England did not use him well enough. Share on Pinterest Reuse this content England beaten by Belgium in World Cup and face Colombia in last 16 World Cup Future is bright with Alexander-ArnoldAt least the fifth teenager to feature for England at the World Cup left Kaliningrad with his reputation enhanced. This was Trent Alexander-Arnold’s first competitive start for his country and he did a fine job defensively, scrambling one effort from Marouane Fellaini off the goal-line, and tapping instantly into England’s pass‑and‑move routines. No one on the pitch touched the ball more often in the first half, nor crossed or created more chances in English colours, and his energy was infectious as he galloped eagerly into enemy territory. It is his misfortune that Kieran Trippier, the man he replaced, is such a weapon in England’s armoury with his set-piece delivery, otherwise, at 19, the Liverpool man would be a shoo‑in to this team.Januzaj still has it after allThe days when Adnan Januzaj was considered the bright hope at Manchester United, back when David Moyes was manager and England were even wondering whether he might qualify for them, have seemed distant in recent times. The downturn has taken the 23-year-old through unproductive loan spells at Borussia Dortmund and Sunderland and a permanent switch to Real Sociedad in search of reinvention. Yet here was a reminder of underlying quality. Danny Rose may have obligingly presented the winger with space but the finish that was whipped beyond Jordan Pickford into the far corner was majestic. Now Belgium’s big guns – Lukaku, Hazard, De Bruyne et al – will be refreshed and ready to tear into Japan in Rostov. Belgium Share on LinkedIn Englandlast_img

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