England's New Midfield Dynamic

10 Sep

England 1- 0 Wales

This report takes a look at the new formation and playing patterns being implemented by Fabio Capello for England against Wales.

Capello has been under heavy criticism during and since the 2010 World Cup  for his over reliance on an out dated 4-4-2 formation and the combinations he choose in key areas such as in central midfield with Lampard and Gerard, and who to partner Rooney.

Comparing the two starting line ups from England vs. Germany to England vs. Wales 5 different players are on show with 3 of the remaining 6 players in different positions.  A key change to the players selected is the injection of pace on the wings from Young and Downing and against Bulgaria Walcott.   In addition Rooney who is still England’s key player has been given more freedom to roam as he does so effectively for United which could be heard by the lack of usual “ROONEY” shouting from Capello.  This due to the ability of any of the supporting 3 to be able to push into a central role ensuring England always have a player forward.

England Shape 2010 vs 2011

The last two games against Wales and Bulgaria have shown a new formation and system of play, however the style for the time being remains the same.  We’re previously Capello had relied on a out dated stiff 4-4-2 he has now opted for a more modern and fluid 4-2-3-1.

Let’s be honest this was yet another disappointing display across the 90 minutes by England however if we look at England’s movement when in possession in isolation this is probably the most fluid England have looked under Capello.

This statement may be a contradiction to England’s performance which showed poor decision making, a of lack speed in the build up and was panicked in defence when put under pressure, however the movement of England’s midfield and forward line was very interesting and boded well for the future.

Key Combinations

England's Left Side

When in possession England’s flat back 4 quickly moved to a wide 3 with Barry or Milner acting as a deep pivot to enable the ball to rotate from left to right. When playing out of defence Terry, Barry, Smalling and Cahill linked for a 4 pass combination to move the Welsh midfield left to right allowing Cole to drift forward beyond Young wide left. To create further space Young who in the first half played as an inside forward pulled of the front line to either receive the ball from Terry or to allow a pass into the space left for Cole to run onto. This would be supported by Rooney, Lampard and Downing in the box with Milner or Barry providing a late run to pick up any deeper crosses or knocked downs.

While England have relied upon Cole providing width previously with Gerrard moving in from the left, this is the first time a phase of play has been used to create the space.  By employing this it also reduced the effectiveness of Gareth Bale in the first half forcing him to perform defensive duties rather than staying forward as the key outlet for Wales.  In addition this enabled England to overload the left half of the pitch with 7 players resulting in Wales halving the pitch with 8 players to reduce the space England had to play in.  By Wales trying to prevent England playing down the left this resulted in Downing being left 1 vs  1 on the right wing.  As a result Lampard and Milner were able to play in Downing on several occasions. While being wasteful at times Downing caused Wales numerous problems down the right with his pace and ability to attack the full back on his inside and outside which eventually resulted in the cross for England’s first goal.

Midfield Fluidity

England's Midfield Movement 1

When in possession England played an adventurous 3-1-3-3 this meant when attacking three players were always available to

attack the box with a 4thsupporting from the edge.

England’s movement between the midfield and forward line was excellent however the speed and choice of pass did not always match resulting in the spaces that were created not being exploited or Barry and Milner being closed down and losing possession.

Through the middle Lampard, Barry, Milner and Rooney all interchanged with Lampard playing the role of a false No 10 as

England's Midfield Moveement 2

Fabregas did so effectively for Spain vs. Chile.  Rooney who in the first half played as a false No 9 would often find himself in the centre circle to bring the ball forward.  Unlike what the pundits describe as Rooney’s urgency to get involved in the
game this was actually clever movement often with Milner being the most advanced player ahead of Lampard with Barry providing the 4th man on support.  By rotating the positions this would result in the Wales midfield dropping deeper to track the run’s of England’s defensive midfielders giving Rooney (England’s most creative player) time to pick a pass or drive forward.

With the return of more technical and dynamic midfielders such as Wilshire and Gerrard in the deeper roles the attacking potential of England with this new system is very promising.

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