In my previous article I had emphasized on two words that England needs to bring to their brand of football, those being decisive and complete, despite prevailing over Croatia in their opening fixture. Albeit what we got last night was something polar opposite.
An English embarrassment at the hands of footballing minnows, Scotland in a rivalry as old as time with a tame 0-0 draw amid a sea of dejected fans at the Mecca of English football, Wembley.
The reason I use the word minnows is purely based on rankings as 4th placed England was up against 44th placed Scotland. A gap of momentous proportions akin to a mammoth elephant and a tiny ant pitted in a contest.
Well, as the saying goes ‘An elephant may be big, but it falls on its face more often than an ant’ and that’s precisely what happened with mighty England who would have considered this fixture as another walk in the park.
Walk they did albeit not in the park but in shame as an enviable record of winning 8, losing 1 and drawing 2 in the 11 matches contested against the neighboring Scots in the European Championship didn’t soar further but faded in a deplorable draw.
So as my heart fills with disappointment, lets dissect this rather subdued performance by The Three Lions last night:
England create chances amid no goals in the first 45
The Three Lions started the game with much flair as their first opportunity came in just the 11th minute when a John Stones’ header hit the post after he received a nice cross from Chelsea man, Mason Mount.
Minutes later Mount himself hit a shot inches wide of the post as he was fed with a brilliant pass by Sterling amid resulting in nothing.
Young English sensation, Phil Foden continued from his brilliant showing against Croatia when in the 17th minute he created yet another opportunity for The Three Lions with a shot almost on target albeit the linesman adjudging him off-side.
England were surely looking up for this contest in the first 20 and little did I know then that this would eventually all but fizzle out in a goalless draw.
On the other end, Scotland almost took the lead in the 30th minute as O’Donnell fired a shot towards the bottom left corner of the English net which was saved rather brilliantly by the wall in the English goal, Jordan Pickford.
With no further drama, the first half ended with both the teams yet to mount one on the score-board.
The hosts try, Scotland deny, as the full 90 is left goalless
Mason Mount, the Chelsea star began the second half rather brightly as he created England’s first opportunity on-target with a massive strike from just outside the Scottish D as keeper Marshall did well to tip it wide.
As the second half progressed, this would unfortunately be the only shot The Three Lions could muster on target amid creating nine opportunities in the entire contest.
Scotland managed yet another shot on target in the 62nd minute as Dykes fired a shot which was ably headed out by defender Reece James on the goal line.
The Scots looked mightily impressive to create these two chances on target but what impressed me even more was how rock solid they were in defence to keep England at bay for the full 90.
In truth, the draw was a relief, as had the visitors converted either of their chances, The Tartan Army could well have reigned supreme over their more accomplished neighbours.
Well, had that happen, the word shocking would surely have a new meaning!
Do England really intend to finish first in their group?
Well, if I were a neutral and not a die-hard English fan, I would say NO!
Call it a conspiracy or some sort of a random theory, but this is worth a thought.
If England were to top their group, they would be pitted against either of France, Germany or Portugal in the Round of 16 as the winner of Group D (England’s group) locks horns with the runner up in Group F (France, Portugal and Germany group).
Having said this, if England finish second, they would come up against the runner up in Group E in the next round which in most likelihood would be Slovakia or Sweden.
So, who would you rather face if you were England, the might of Germany, France or Portugal or a more beatable team in Slovakia or Sweden in a knock-out game?
Whilst this is just a theory, it makes absolute sense to truly justify this disappointing outing against the Scots.
All that England needs to do in the next game is to scrape a draw against the Czech and they would finish second in the group behind the East European nation owing to an inferior goal difference.
Having said this, the fan in me who loves English football more than life itself surely hopes to see The Three Lions roar with much valour in their next fixture irrespective of who they are pitted against in the Round of 16.
Nothing less than a win will suffice. Common England, show ’em all your true metal!
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