England Win But Are Far From Impressive

Ledley King, Tottenham Hotspur captain
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The 3-1 scoreline looks emphatic, but it disguises a rather below par performance by England and is flattered by a dodgy goal from Peter Crouch and Mexico’s total lack of ideas in and around the England penalty area. Still there are some positives to be taken by both teams and they could meet in the Quarter Finals of the World Cup assuming they finish in the same qualifying position in their respective groups.

On the slightly bumpy Wembley pitch, which didn’t seem to play as badly as we were led to believe it would Mexico dominated possession but looked totally bereft of ideas in the final third of the pitch, while England can take heart from some find defensive blocking and from the goals, two of which were from defenders who should have sealed their places in the 23 man squad.

The opening goal was nicely worked and showed Mexico’s weakness in defence – lacking big men to deal with set pieces. The goal cam from a Steven Gerrard corner which should have been dealt with easily, however it alluded the Mexico defense and a crisp header back across goal from Peter Crouch was met by Ledley King who had an easy nod in for 1-0.

The second goal was more questionable and an offside Peter crouch managed to bundle the ball in with his arm following a nice save by the Mexican keeper. On another night this goal would have been chalked off but is stood and England looked in Cruise mode, however in first half injury time Mexico got a goal back when Guillermo Franco pounced on a rebound to knock the ball in.

Fortunately for England a Rocket shot from Glen Johnson just after the break restored the 2 goal lead and effectively allowed England to relax a bit and probably ensured that Mexico were content to play possession football for the remainder of the game.

So whats the positives for England:

Well we know that Leighton Banes is not good enough at this stage of his career – he was partially at fault for the goal and was cruelly exposed on several occasions by the speedy Mexican wingers. Finding this out now is a positive and I will be amazed if he makes the 23.  Ledley King and Glen Johnson both look composed and should be in the 23 and Arron Lennon has the pace to upset any back four in the world.  Overall the team is starting to take shape now and at full strength England will be hard to beat and have shown they can win games without dominating them.

As for Mexico they have shown that they can pass the ball and retain possession, which will stand them in good stead in the rarified atmosphere of South Africa, but look suspect in defense and need to convert their possession and chances into goals. They should at least make the last 16 on this performance.

So overall a win for England but the stats are not impressive 7 shots to Mexico’s 16, 3 corners to 7, out passed out tackled and only 34.3% possession. One gets the feeling that if Mexico had really came to play that the scoreline could have been different and if they were to meet in the World Cup Quarter Finals I wouldn’t bet too much on a repeat result.

On this showing England will struggle in the latter stages.

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