England fans are left with nothing but quiet reflection after losing the first two games in Group D against Italy and Uruguay respectively. It was all so exciting and fun to be an England fan just over a week ago, in the space of 4 days, it was all over. England limped out at the group stage for the first time since the 1958 World Cup.
England’s opponents in their last game in Brazil are Costa Rica, who have surprised many with their style of play this summer winning their two group games. Costa Rica will want to win the match to top the group, although they will still go past the group stages for the first time since 1990. They have scored at least one goal in 9 of their last 10 World Cup games and will be trying to making this game as difficult as possible for England.
Everyone has had their say on what went wrong, some English tabloids calling for Hodgson to resign, or being Gerrard at fault for making crucial mistakes, Rooney……for just being Rooney. Ultimately, the results did not go England’s way and they find themselves out of the World Cup. The Three Lions will have to find a way to get themselves ready for this game, even though there is nothing to play for – except pride. This could be the catalyst for an entertaining match, as there will be no pressure on England, at the very least, some players may see it as their chance to shine.
England possible line up against Costa Rica :
Foster, Jones, Smalling, Cahill, Shaw, Wilshire, Lampard, Milner, Barkley, Lallana, Sturridge.
Express Individual Talent
As shown from the line-up, Hodgson has decided to give players who have either not been involved or did not play as much the chance to play. With Shaw confirmed to play for the injured Baines, and Barkley a confirmed starter. With the pressure off in this game, England will look to individual skill and talent to make the difference against Costa Rica. With players like Barkley and Lallana in from the start and Sturridge to play with up top, some exciting football COULD happen.
Look to the future
England have been accused over the years, and again in this tournament, for not being able to drop the big players, as media and fan pressure has possibly swayed management decisions in the past. This could be a major reason for the stagnated approach to English international football at the previous few tournaments. Top international teams have never been afraid to drop their star players to achieve something greater, playing as a team with a side full of players who fit the mould and are worthy of the cause is essential for the big sides in major tournaments. Maybe now, after another failure, England will finally stop trying to squeeze in players like Frank Lampard just to appease, maybe now we can look to the future and plan and build an England squad around fresh, new talent, players who deserve to be there because they are the best players in their position AND they fit into the team’s ethos.
Roy Hodgson believes that youth is the way forward, he recently said: “This is the chance for them to really show they are good players. They are playing in a game where a lot of other young players and they can go out and show the faith and hope we have that these boys are really going to develop in justified.”
This game COULD be a glimpse into England’s team over the next few years : Shaw, Jones, Barkley, Lallana, Sturridge and even Wilshire could be an integral part of this England side to come. Maybe we will see some flashes of the future against Costa Rica.
Attack!! But this time, defend a bit better too
Frank Lampard will no doubt lead the team out, in what will probably be his last game in an England shirt (hopefully). He has always been the type of midfielder who can score a goal and expect him to be shooting from any angle and distance against Costa Rica to try and score in his final game.
Other than Frank trying his hardest, as mentioned above we could see some dynamic, attacking football, hopefully of the sort seen against Italy. England really showed some promise going forward in this game, but as shown in the games against Italy and Uruguay it is defensive mistakes and poor positioning that cost England. Hodgson will be hoping for some better defensive performances in this swansong match, and Milner, Lampard and Wilshire may figure out a way to play in midfield and offer help to the back four. If England have the stronger core through the middle, they could offer a nice base for the more creative players to flourish.