England 1-1 USA: England poor in possession, US get wide players forward well

Mike.

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England 1-1 USA: England poor in possession, US get wide players forward well

http://www.zonalmarking.net/2010/06/13/england-1-1-usa-tactic/


England 1-1 USA: England poor in possession, US get wide players forward well

June 13, 2010

The line-ups

England were the better side, but struggled to make their dominance count and came close to losing the game. The USA’s 4-2-2-2 shape caused problems and prevented England’s full-backs from getting into the game.
England started with their usual shape from qualification, Wayne Rooney partnering Emile Heskey upfront. In Gareth Barry’s absence, Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard played together in midfield and James Milner started on the left – although only stayed there for half an hour.

The US also fielded their usual shape, a 4-4-2 / 4-2-2-2 that saw Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey supporting Jozy Altidore and Robbie Findley. Steve Cherundolo started ahead of Jonathan Spector after the latter’s poor run of form.
Firstly, we must clear one thing up about England’s formation, as it has been expressed as both a 4-4-2 and a 4-2-3-1 throughout Fabio Capello’s reign in charge. The two systems look different in pure numbers but can be similar on the pitch – if one striker drops off and the wingers push on in a 4-4-2, you have a 4-2-3-1 fairly seamlessly.
England, however, played a 4-4-2 in this match. Wayne Rooney did not play between the left-winger and right-winger, he played upfront and, in fact, often in advance of Emile Heskey for much of the game.

One of the biggest issues from the game was always going to be the question of whether the Gerrard-Lampard combination worked. Slightly surprisingly, they were given the freedom to dovetail at will throughout the game, rather than one of them being given a specific brief to sit in front of the defence. When this has happened before, it has often resulted in an unbalanced centre of midfield with both looking to make forward runs, but both were responsible positionally whilst getting forward when appropriate, and it’s fair to say that defensively, England rarely had problems stemming from a position those two were meant to be occupying (with the obvious exception of the goal, for which the blame is clearly not with the midfield).
This shows why the US system is often termed 4-2-2-2 rather than 4-4-2. The defensive midfielders (green) and the strikers (blue) take up conventional positions, but Dempsey and Donovan play very central (pink) forcing the England full-backs to come narrow.

The problem with declaring the system a (partial) success, though, is that they were never going to be tested in that respect anyway. In Michael Bradley and Ricardo Clark, the US play two defensive-minded midfielders that rarely look to link up directly with the forwards. They leave that to the wide players – and in fact, the full-backs offer more attacking threat than the central midfielders.
Onyewu dragged towards the ball, example 1. Here, he is too concerned with Rooney (in pink) and gets too far in advance of his defensive colleagues (all four in yellow). Gerrard (in blue) exploits the space and scores.

It’s simply not possible to treat this as an audition for the Gerrard-Lampard partnership being deployed against sides that play a deep-lying forward or an offensive central midfielder, where their defensive abilities would come under a lot closer scrutiny.
Heskey plays role brilliantly
Another classic England-related debate concerns Heskey, a notoriously goal-shy striker that many fans would prefer to see nowhere near the squad. This game showed his value to England, however – he constantly won aerial balls, held the ball up, and (perhaps surprisingly) showed very good movement when England’s creative players got the ball. He had done his job within the first five minutes with his assist for Gerrard’s goal – receiving the ball to feet, playing a simple pass for an onrushing midfield player, and England were ahead.
Onyewu dragged towards the ball, example 2. Again, he is caught too far up the pitch. The left-back Bocanegra covers, but this leaves an easy ball on for Aaron Lennon, who ended up playing the ball across the box rather than shooting.

As seems to have happened in every opening game of major tournaments in recent years, England went ahead and then became sloppy. The US goal was unfortunate and was slightly against the run of play, but England were not controlling the tempo of the game, nor were they dominating possession as well as they should have.
Both Gerrard and Lampard played some awful passes and demonstrated exactly why so many believe England’s poor ball retention skills will prevent them from winning this competition. On paper the technical qualities of the England central midfield pairing are far superior to their opposite numbers on the US side, but Bradley and Clark were not overawed and did their calm, unspectacular jobs well.

US ambitious in possession
Firstly, the problems Oguchi Onyewu suffered throughout the game are documented in the three pictures here. This problem was something ZM highlighted when previewing the US side – see the bottom picture here. Some might say he was “Doing a Vermaelen”.
Great credit should go to Bob Bradley for getting his wide players into advanced positions. Donovan and Dempsey came off the flanks to provide a threat from a position England aren’t used to dealing with. The England full-backs were forced to play very narrow, and this in turn opened up space on the flanks.
Onyewu dragged towards the ball (example 3) - it happens yet again, this time, the space is exploit by Heskey, who should have scored.

This helped the US full-backs, because they constantly looked to bomb forward and provide the width that was lacking when the front four all moved centrally. Although they rarely had a direct influence on the game, it stretched the England defence and helped the attacking quartet find space. An example of this was the early headed chance for Altidore – the crossing opportunity was there because of Cherundolo’s 50-yard decoy run from full-back (see bottom picture). Many sides would have kept their full-backs at home against an England side containing plenty of pace, but the US’ attacking instincts paid off.

In particular, Donovan’s advanced position made it very difficult for Ashley Cole to get forward, and he rarely had an influence in the attacking third. This is a key part of stopping England – with no left-footed attacking player, they rely on Cole for attacking width on that side, and with the right-winger Aaron Lennon asked to hug the touchline and generally not being involved in build-up play, England found it difficult to create chances, especially with Bradley and Clark patrolling the midfield side-by-side and tracking the runs of Gerrard and Lampard well (after the goal).
Late on
Cherundolo provided good support from right full-back. Here, he provides an overlap (blue) shifting Milner out of position, and letting Donovan find room to cross.

Neither side really used substitutions to change the game in terms of tactics and formations. England started to push forward late on but this forced their centre-backs into a high line, and exposed the lack of pace at the back. Jozy Altidore outpaced Jamie Carragher incredibly easily and had his shot turned onto the woodwork by Green. Carragher looked a yard off the pace for the entirety of the second half, diving in and getting himself in poor positions.
England’s best opportunities were when the US defence became narrow, and a late ball was played to one of the two wide players. Aaron Lennon did his job well – he got to the byline and put in a couple of excellent balls, whilst also playing a good through ball for Heskey who shot straight at the goalkeeper. Shaun Wright-Phillips wasted a good chancend did little of note in his hour on the pitch.

Conclusion

England rarely start well in major tournaments, and the result was not entirely unpredictable. We should avoid going overboard, but the game presented so many problems for Capello – Milner’s indiscipline, King’s fitness worries, Carragher’s lack of pace, Green’s confidence after his mistakes, Heskey’s wastefulness (despite his otherwise excellent display).
England’s formation as a whole didn’t look to be the problem, but this game suggests that stopping Rooney getting on the ball and stopping Ashley Cole getting forward stops England. The one bright spot was the right-hand side, where Lennon and Glen Johnson attacked well and created chances.

The US will be delighted with the result. Bradley’s instructions to the wide players helped the US get a grip on the game and caused England problems – a straight 4-4-2 v 4-4-2 would probably have resulted in England dominating to a greater extent, but Donovan and Dempsey’s position put pressure on the England central midfielders and the England full-backs.
There were issues at both ends of the pitch, however. The centre-backs get dragged towards the ball too easily, leaving gaps in the defence – if those gaps are filled by the full-backs, then easy balls to the opposition wingers can cause problems. Meanwhile, the Findley-Altidore partnership worked reasonably well but was fairly easy to read – there’s surely a need for one to drop off to a greater extent, in order to provide the US with a different option when they win the ball.
 

Jamie F

Surprise *****!
Jun 16, 2009
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Wow, Onyewu's ****, eh!
Yes and he makes the exact same errors as Vermaelen does for Arsenal, a player I will refuse to rate despite the media's constant bragging of him, yet I don't know how many times I seen people say how great Onyewu was last night. A lot of people need to read the articles of Zonal Marking because they are quite simply tremendous
 

SuperDude

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Dec 7, 2008
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I said when the line-up was announced that Gerrard and Lampard would not work and I was right, how can a world class manager like Capello make such basic and obvious tactical mistakes, I have no idea. What is the point of Heskey, all he does is jump in the air and flick on long balls, he can't hit a barn door with a banjo. Heskey has not scored a goal for anyone since November, WTF is he doing at the World Cup??? I thought Capello was brought in to shake things up but he's ended up with the same predictable, flat 4-4-2 formation that every previous manager used with nothing but failure as a result. How the **** can he seriously play Lampard and Gerrard together when successive coaches utterly failed to get them to work together? They're both attacking midfielders, it leaves no-one to shore up the midfield and protect the back four, it's not ******* rocket science. You wouldn't play Kaka and Ronaldinho in centre midfield together so why Lampard and Gerrrard????
 

Ben

I am a biased ****.
Jan 21, 2009
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I said when the line-up was announced that Gerrard and Lampard would not work and I was right, how can a world class manager like Capello make such basic and obvious tactical mistakes, I have no idea. What is the point of Heskey, all he does is jump in the air and flick on long balls, he can't hit a barn door with a banjo. Heskey has not scored a goal for anyone since November, WTF is he doing at the World Cup??? I thought Capello was brought in to shake things up but he's ended up with the same predictable, flat 4-4-2 formation that every previous manager used with nothing but failure as a result. How the **** can he seriously play Lampard and Gerrard together when successive coaches utterly failed to get them to work together? They're both attacking midfielders, it leaves no-one to shore up the midfield and protect the back four, it's not ******* rocket science. You wouldn't play Kaka and Ronaldinho in centre midfield together so why Lampard and Gerrrard????
All of that is complete bollocks.
 
May 1, 2009
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I said when the line-up was announced that Gerrard and Lampard would not work and I was right, how can a world class manager like Capello make such basic and obvious tactical mistakes, I have no idea. What is the point of Heskey, all he does is jump in the air and flick on long balls, he can't hit a barn door with a banjo. Heskey has not scored a goal for anyone since November, WTF is he doing at the World Cup??? I thought Capello was brought in to shake things up but he's ended up with the same predictable, flat 4-4-2 formation that every previous manager used with nothing but failure as a result. How the **** can he seriously play Lampard and Gerrard together when successive coaches utterly failed to get them to work together? They're both attacking midfielders, it leaves no-one to shore up the midfield and protect the back four, it's not ******* rocket science. You wouldn't play Kaka and Ronaldinho in centre midfield together so why Lampard and Gerrrard????

All he does is set-up England's goal and hassle the U.S. defence, how bollocks is he..... :S
 

Jak

Member
May 17, 2010
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I said when the line-up was announced that Gerrard and Lampard would not work and I was right, how can a world class manager like Capello make such basic and obvious tactical mistakes, I have no idea. What is the point of Heskey, all he does is jump in the air and flick on long balls, he can't hit a barn door with a banjo. Heskey has not scored a goal for anyone since November, WTF is he doing at the World Cup??? I thought Capello was brought in to shake things up but he's ended up with the same predictable, flat 4-4-2 formation that every previous manager used with nothing but failure as a result. How the **** can he seriously play Lampard and Gerrard together when successive coaches utterly failed to get them to work together? They're both attacking midfielders, it leaves no-one to shore up the midfield and protect the back four, it's not ******* rocket science. You wouldn't play Kaka and Ronaldinho in centre midfield together so why Lampard and Gerrrard????
Just no
 

KevyMatts

Premium
Jun 28, 2009
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I said when the line-up was announced that Gerrard and Lampard would not work and I was right, how can a world class manager like Capello make such basic and obvious tactical mistakes, I have no idea. What is the point of Heskey, all he does is jump in the air and flick on long balls, he can't hit a barn door with a banjo. Heskey has not scored a goal for anyone since November, WTF is he doing at the World Cup??? I thought Capello was brought in to shake things up but he's ended up with the same predictable, flat 4-4-2 formation that every previous manager used with nothing but failure as a result. How the **** can he seriously play Lampard and Gerrard together when successive coaches utterly failed to get them to work together? They're both attacking midfielders, it leaves no-one to shore up the midfield and protect the back four, it's not ******* rocket science. You wouldn't play Kaka and Ronaldinho in centre midfield together so why Lampard and Gerrrard????
You haven't a clue do you?:S
 

CJ

Member
Jun 28, 2009
2,883
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I said when the line-up was announced that Gerrard and Lampard would not work and I was right, how can a world class manager like Capello make such basic and obvious tactical mistakes, I have no idea. What is the point of Heskey, all he does is jump in the air and flick on long balls, he can't hit a barn door with a banjo. Heskey has not scored a goal for anyone since November, WTF is he doing at the World Cup??? I thought Capello was brought in to shake things up but he's ended up with the same predictable, flat 4-4-2 formation that every previous manager used with nothing but failure as a result. How the **** can he seriously play Lampard and Gerrard together when successive coaches utterly failed to get them to work together? They're both attacking midfielders, it leaves no-one to shore up the midfield and protect the back four, it's not ******* rocket science. You wouldn't play Kaka and Ronaldinho in centre midfield together so why Lampard and Gerrrard????
I want my 30 seconds it took me to read that drivel back...:S
 

Joe

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Oct 10, 2009
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Im fine with capello for now, hes a good defensive organiser and we would have won 1-0 if it wasnt for robert green.
 

Aannddyy

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Jun 30, 2009
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www.fm-base.co.uk
Am I the only one that thought we played a weak team? I mean these six players are hardly good enough for the first team squad:
King
Milner
SWP
Lennon
Heskey
Green

And they proved it last night, Heskey did okay but I'd rather have a goalscorer than a link-up man especially with Gerrard and Lampard in the squad.

I'd much rather have:
Carragher/Ferdinand
Barry
J. Cole
Defoe/Crouch
Hart/ James
Beckham

On the pitch than the top list of players. But USA were terrible, in our day we would have smashed the **** into them, I really wouldn't look to much into this match XD
 

CJ

Member
Jun 28, 2009
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Am I the only one that thought we played a weak team? I mean these six players are hardly good enough for the first team squad:
King
Milner
SWP
Lennon
Heskey
Green

And they proved it last night, Heskey did okay but I'd rather have a goalscorer than a link-up man especially with Gerrard and Lampard in the squad.

I'd much rather have:
Carragher/Ferdinand
Barry
J. Cole
Defoe/Crouch
Hart/ James
Beckham

On the pitch than the top list of players. But USA were terrible, in our day we would have smashed the **** into them, I really wouldn't look to much into this match XD
What a load of rubbish. You'd rather have Carragher then King....oO) King and Terry we're doing fine untill he came off and then when carragher came on, he got completely outpaced by Altidore and USA should have scored. Carragher and Terry would be a poor partnership as they are both too slow
 

sunilvk7

SAF greatest ever.
Dec 16, 2008
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Super dude was correct on Gerrard and Lampard part. They cant play as CM pair. You people are going by his past **** posts to slag him off. Heskey was ok. He was better than half of the team for sure.

Carra just showed why he sould not be anywhere near SA if he was not on holiday.
ht
Gerrard-Lampard combo, no cohesion, communication drive. Terry was looking on one of them to make available for passes. Lampard was not in scene till that left foot shot. Gerrard started so brigly but was getting worse and worse as game went on.

SWP as left winger? Huh Joe cole would have been 10 times better at left wing.

---------- Post added at 07:54 PM ---------- Previous post was at 07:52 PM ----------

Without Rio England cannot afford to play with high defensive line..
 

Jak

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May 17, 2010
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Carragher is passed it for me. I've always been a big fan but Upson is ahead of him for me and possibly Dawson too (but with lack of experience I would probably choose Carragher).

Kings is obvs first choice over all of them when fit
 
Last edited:

Mike.

Moderator
Staff member
Feb 15, 2009
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Super dude was correct on Gerrard and Lampard part. They cant play as CM pair. You people are going by his past **** posts to slag him off. Heskey was ok. He was better than half of the team for sure.

Carra just showed why he sould not be anywhere near SA if he was not on holiday.
ht
Gerrard-Lampard combo, no cohesion, communication drive. Terry was looking on one of them to make available for passes. Lampard was not in scene till that left foot shot. Gerrard started so brigly but was getting worse and worse as game went on.

SWP as left winger? Huh Joe cole would have been 10 times better at left wing.

---------- Post added at 07:54 PM ---------- Previous post was at 07:52 PM ----------

Without Rio England cannot afford to play with high defensive line..
no we read that post and it was drivel.
 

CJACKO11

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Dec 16, 2009
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We all knew USA were no mugs but we still should have won. For me fabio got his subs wrong massivly, joe cole should have come on insted of wright Phillips he was absolutly dreadfull. Upson or Dawson should have come on insted of carragher he has no pace at all and he is physicly weaker then the other 2. Heskey and gerrard were brilliant but I was dissapointed with Rooney I hope he makes me feel stupid for running him down. We should have used Lennon much more he seems like he could be our biggest threat. The lads in 66 drew their first game so let's hope Friday is much better.
 
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