Originally posted on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 11/19/13
After publicly dubbing England players as “soft” in the , Alexis Sanchez and his Chilean side proceeded to back his statements in their international friendly last Friday evening. Action images Fraser Forster, Adam Lallana and Jay Rodriguez were given debut appearances for England on the night, as Roy Hodgson looked to explore his options for the coming World Cup.  Their performances, as debutants, were as decent as anyone would expect.  It was the more experienced players who would disappoint, as they were unable to establish themselves on the pitch. Chile took the game to England on the day, controlling the run of play with meaningful possession and creative attacking.  England, meanwhile, looked nervous in possession and wilted under Chile’s high pressure defense.  Alexis Sanchez personally saw to England’s defeat, netting the only two goals of the match. Both goals would come from perceivable errors in the England defense.  The first goal was the result of a lapse of concentration by Gary Cahill in central defense.  Subsequently, Leighton Baines failed to halt a late run from Sanchez, leaving him one on one with the debutant keeper Foster.  Once Chile went ahead, there was no looking back.  England showed no signs of rallying and were effectively run off the pitch by Chile. Boos rang out at the final whistle, leaving Roy Hodgson to answer a laundry-list of scrutinizing questions from the media.  The England manager was quick to dismiss the result as meaningful.  Instead, he praised the Chilean side (who are without doubt a quality side) and pointed to the positive debuts made in his side. Fast forward to this week, as England host an even more talented German side for another friendly.  For this match, Hodgson opted for a lineup closer to full-strength, returning Hart, Gerrard and Sturridge to the lineup.  Andros Townsend was also given a start after being excluded from the Chile match. The change in personnel did not change the result, however, as England were again unable to positively impact the score-line.  Germany, much like Chile, took the play to England.  In spite of their experimental lineup, the Germans created chances all match.  However, England were able to organize at the back and repel the German attack, a fact that many English will be pleased with following the defensive woes against Chile. EPA The Germans did eventually break through from a corner headed in by Per Mertesacker.  It would be the only goal of the match, but with England’s inability to score, it would be enough. England failed to test the German defense.  In fact, the only real attempt by England came from Townsend, who clattered a shot off the post.  Other than that, the English went quietly.  Roman Weidenfellar, making his debut in goal for Germany, went the entire match without have to make a save. International friendlies should not be heavily analyzed for results.  Quite often, these matches lack spirit and managers often use them to explore the depth of their squad.  However, they are a device through which managers and countries can assess their squad’s quality and progression.  If there is anything that can be assessed with certainty following England’s recent friendlies, it is that they are still lacking players with confidence and creative spark. England’s inability to control possession under pressure often leaves them with few chances on goal.  Even when England have their defense sorted out and resolute, they have regularly gone goalless in matches.  Of the few chances they do produce, they rarely convert them. There is no real lack of quality within the England squad.  There is simply a lack of cohesive strategy.  On paper, there is no reason England can’t perform well in the coming World Cup.  However, if they continue to fail at scoring, England won’t stand a chance against the most humble of opponents.  Roy Hodgson will need to instill an accepted and understood strategy for his squad that creates chances and puts players in positions to convert them.  Perhaps, this means moving on from players of the “Golden” generation such as Gerrard, Lampard and Cole.  But some change must be made, as England have continuously fell short for the past decade.  

This article first appeared on isportsweb.com and was syndicated with permission.

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