Croatia 2 - 1 England
Jordan Pickford will head home this weekend having fallen just short of the World Cup Final following England's defeat to an indefatigable Croatia in Moscow after extra time.
Gareth Southgate's team had a strong first half and scored early through Kieran Trippier's sumptuous free kick but Harry Kane's miss where he hammered the ball off the post rather than doubling the lead would prove costly.
Ivan Perisic equalised to press home Croatia's second-half superiority and with England out of ideas by the time extra time rolled around, Mario Mandzukic capitalised as John Stones lost concentration to ram the winner past Pickford to send the Croatians through.
Croatia set out their stall to press England's back line in the early going but a smart ball forward and a lovely touch by Jesse Lingard allowed Dele Alli to drive forward where he was fouled by Modric.
Trippier stepped up to aim a perfectly-placed shot to the left of Subisic and gave England the lead after just five minutes.
Pickford was forced into his first meaningful save with half an hour gone, a parry and then gather after Kane had seen a shot saved and then the ball come off the post from very close range at the other end.
A few minutes later, Alli laid the ball off on the edge of the box to Lingard following a powerful Kane run but the Manchester United man miscued his placed shot.
England started the second half slowly but were almost in after Lingard's drive was deflected over and following the resulting corner, Trippier crossed first time looking for Kane but it was hooked away by Dejan Lovren before he could trouble the 'keeper.
Croatia remained on the front foot and when the ball broke to Ivan Perisic outside the box, Walker took the full force his powerful drive to block it away.
That only delayed the equaliser, however. A wicked cross was swung in from the right a Perisic got a leg in front of Walker to guide it home in the 68th minute.
The match was almost turned on its head when Pickford was involved a defensive muddle on the edge of their box, Stones could only clear it to Perisic who jinked left and fired off the post and Rebic hit the rebound straight at the 'keeper.
Southgate removed Raheem Sterling in favour of Marcus Rashford with 18 minutes of the regulation 90 remaining but it was Lingard who was played in by Kane in the 77th minute but he dragged his shot across goal.
Pickford then blocked well from Mandzukic's half-volleyed effort before Perisic floated the ball over after Pickford had punched it straight to him under pressure from a Croatian attacker.
But England could not get going after the extra-time restart, Kyle Walker half clearing the ball, it was headed back in, Stones didn't react and Mandzukic did, latching on to it and firing in left-footed from about 6 yards out.
Trippier would hobble off leaving England to play out the last few minutes of their Russia 2018 World Cup campaign with 10 men, a real disappointment after making such a great start to the game.
England now face Belgium in Saturday's third-place match.
Reader Comments (184)
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1 Posted 11/07/2018 at 17:11:56
Will mighty, young England book their place in football's biggest game?
Or will Luca Modric, arguably the best midfielder in the world in my opinion, tear them a new one?
Answers in two hours.
If England do win and go out in the final to an exceedingly strong France team, cue the brain dead, “told ya they were shite” comments! Despite reaching a World Cup final with an average squad age of what? Twenty-three?
Good side this England I tell ya! Fingers crossed.
Really fired up for this one. I'd love to see England win it all.
God save the Queen! And the Pope, and while He's at it, everyone else for that matter.
2 Posted 11/07/2018 at 17:16:51
And the rs, Jamie?
3 Posted 11/07/2018 at 17:27:43
Maybe, just maybe we can put this right tonight.
4 Posted 11/07/2018 at 17:36:59
And a coach who I'd argue actually knows what the hell he's doing.
Brent – God is color-blind. Yes, "that lot" too. ;0)
5 Posted 11/07/2018 at 17:38:01
If we as fans feel it, what must it be like for the players and coaching staff? Will the 'nerves' factor be the telling one in this game?
England – the second youngest team in Russia after Nigeria – against the very talented and very seasoned Croatians. Any team that can field the collective talent of Modric, Rakitic, Mandzukic and Perisic is going to be a challenge.
Will the wily old heads prevail, or will their minds and bodies be sufficiently fatigued from two protracted knock-out games to give the more youthful but less experienced England an edge?
Yesterday, I voted with my head rather than my heart for a France win. Today, both my heart and my head say the same thing: England to win, 2-1.
6 Posted 11/07/2018 at 17:49:30
I'm off the booze but might be tempted by a cheeky Cabernet tonight. Going to be interesting...
7 Posted 11/07/2018 at 18:28:06
8 Posted 11/07/2018 at 18:43:34
However, I now hold you personally responsible for this strange feeling I have that I believe is called “optimism”.
9 Posted 11/07/2018 at 18:59:54
10 Posted 11/07/2018 at 19:54:30
It looks to me that the Croatians exertions through the knockout phase has caught up with them. Their legs have gone. They have neither the pace nor the power to get in behind and beyond England's strong backline.
Modric is lying extremely deep, but not influencing the game. They are being forced out to the wings where they are firing in hopeful crosses from 30-40 yards out which is meat and drink to Pickford and his defence, or in desperation trying exceedingly ambitious long shots from the same distance down the centre.
How Lovren hasn't been yellow carded yet is beyond me. Keep on playing as we are and England will get the cushion of the second goal. Sterling playing well. Lingard and Kane a bit more errant, but nobody is playing badly.
11 Posted 11/07/2018 at 19:56:19
Stones is playing tremendous and dare I say Sterling is looking dangerous and might even score.
12 Posted 11/07/2018 at 19:57:47
13 Posted 11/07/2018 at 20:01:19
14 Posted 11/07/2018 at 20:42:08
15 Posted 11/07/2018 at 20:55:51
They dropped off 10-15 metres, stopped pressing on the toes and heels of Croatia, gave the wing backs far too much room and it was from that situation the equalising goal came from.
It looks to me as if nerves got to England. They started to defend and try to hold what they had rather than continue playing as they were to wait and create the second goal.
The momentum all with Croatia in the second half. Which England and which Croatia are we going to see in extra time?
Anyone's game now. Who is going to step up and win it for their nation?
16 Posted 11/07/2018 at 21:01:04
Okay, short answer, yes. I want us to win again, but then...
17 Posted 11/07/2018 at 21:08:52
18 Posted 11/07/2018 at 21:17:21
19 Posted 11/07/2018 at 21:25:03
20 Posted 11/07/2018 at 21:38:58
The better, the stronger, the team with the best game management won.
21 Posted 11/07/2018 at 21:40:20
Sad because it was arguably Englands one great chance to win it with all the top sides out like Brazil, Argentina, Germany etc.
Hard work and effort was commendable but as we have seen with Everton hard work and effort only gets you so far.
As we have good knowledge of, if you dont have that class ball player in central midfield creativity becomes greatly reduced and scoring opportunities will be more limited.
22 Posted 11/07/2018 at 21:41:21
23 Posted 11/07/2018 at 21:42:42
Harry Kane, Jesse Lindgard, Delli Alli. The invisible men
24 Posted 11/07/2018 at 21:43:16
Admittedly it's a helluva skill in itself, and may be outside the realm of mere training to acquire it, but winning teams (apart from Greece a few years back though!) have it in all the important areas of the pitch.
Croatia, a team representing a country with just one million more people than Wales, had more "savvy" and "technical ability", in my opinion, despite playing their third 2-hour match on the bounce.
25 Posted 11/07/2018 at 21:43:42
26 Posted 11/07/2018 at 21:44:28
28 Posted 11/07/2018 at 21:48:55
Let's do Martinez in the 3rd/4th
29 Posted 11/07/2018 at 21:50:00
They had, despite the cries of, "They haven't played anyone," a great tournament.
Hopefully we can watch a run in 2022, only to get knocked out by the Americans in the semis. ;0)
Thank you, England and Garreth Southgate, for providing me with a ton of entertainment. Be proud.
Now to all things Everton.
30 Posted 11/07/2018 at 21:50:50
31 Posted 11/07/2018 at 21:50:53
Good effort from a young and unfancied team, but France v Croatia is probably the correct final.
Gutted for them as a group though. Southgate was right when he said he'd give us an England team to be proud of. First time in years I've really supported them.
32 Posted 11/07/2018 at 21:51:57
Great tournament though, some great games and shocking results – it will be an interesting final hopefully.
33 Posted 11/07/2018 at 21:54:04
Our expectations aren't quite as high over here, buddy!
34 Posted 11/07/2018 at 21:59:48
If you're not bursting with pride that he's "your man" then I honestly hold no hope for you.
Pickford was absolutely immense. He played so incredibly well in my opinion. I was absolutely thrilled with him and his performance, attitude, and effort.
What a Blue to be proud of. Evertonians everywhere should applaud this kid.
I hope he gets the "standing O" on his return to Goodison. Clap that boy hard for me please if you're there. I'll be clapping until my hands swell up over here.
35 Posted 11/07/2018 at 22:00:07
Once Modric started pulling it both ways, it exposed the English system. Too many crosses started coming into the box, and the inevitable was always going to happen.
Stopping the cross is everything; I hope Silva, is working on this in Austria every day!
Agree with Jim, that Persic is some player; he never stops finding great positions, and never stops trying to do positive things with the football. Class told in the end... but I believe, if England can keep their honesty and intensity, and find a class midfielder, then they could become the best team in Europe in two years time.
36 Posted 11/07/2018 at 22:00:26
Every commentator and pundit dismissed Croatia. All of a sudden, Croatia are a great side and have great players who play for big clubs.
If England had have went the Belgium route and played Brazil, they would have been home by now. My opinion is it's a blessing in disguise because France would have absolutely stuffed England.
37 Posted 11/07/2018 at 22:06:51
How many aimless long balls did we end up playing? Almost as if Southgate found Allardyce's game notes in his waistcoat pocket
38 Posted 11/07/2018 at 22:08:34
Surely Lingard or Alli should've been standing over those.
England lost that game in the middle; no creativity.
39 Posted 11/07/2018 at 22:10:12
Credit to Southgate for getting to this stage. I would have liked to see Loftus Cheek rough them up. Well done, Jordan, you did us proud.
40 Posted 11/07/2018 at 22:12:02
JaC (#34) - I'm brimming with pride about our Pickford. Don't want to talk about any increase in worth as I want to keep him. It's all about what he can do for us.
41 Posted 11/07/2018 at 22:12:26
Alli, Lingard, Kane and Rashford (when he came on) all failed to basically do enough. Croatia started pinging it round in midfield in the second half and England couldn't really respond in kind.
They had several very good creative players and we had the likes of Henderson. We did well to get as far as we did, better than most of us imagined.
Fine lines, fine lines between a good player and a match winner or a player to influence the game.
42 Posted 11/07/2018 at 22:17:24
I feel bad to criticise him, but he should have swapped formations when the Croats were on top early in the second half. We were outnumbered and overrun in the middle. An extra man in there, Delph preferably, could have wrestled control back.
Still it's been one hell of a ride and many of us never expected to be cheering England on with such passion. Southgate, I salute you.
43 Posted 11/07/2018 at 22:17:34
I'm really glad I don't live in their world where negativity rules.
44 Posted 11/07/2018 at 22:20:20
45 Posted 11/07/2018 at 22:25:00
46 Posted 11/07/2018 at 22:28:47
47 Posted 11/07/2018 at 22:31:39
48 Posted 11/07/2018 at 22:35:21
One last thought. In true ToffeeWeb tradition, should we blame Osman or Hibbert for England's exit?
49 Posted 11/07/2018 at 22:37:55
We played Man City early last year, and although we had a man more, we played 5-4-1, and they couldn't find a way through. Koeman, stupidly changed our formation to 4-4-2, and they made a sub right away, and he comes running on shouting to his team-mates 4-4-1.
Holgate made a mistake, but suddenly Man City are getting down the sides because our subs have created the space that was missing when we had a five-man defence.
Sorry for going on, especially with it being so easy to criticise, but, once they took control of the midfield, we needed more bodies out wide imo.
50 Posted 11/07/2018 at 22:41:17
51 Posted 11/07/2018 at 22:42:58
52 Posted 11/07/2018 at 22:43:00
A poor result for a very poor England... and when, oh when are we going to do away with that 'National' Anthem when clearly it isn't,
53 Posted 11/07/2018 at 22:43:56
54 Posted 11/07/2018 at 22:45:44
As we know, the mentality of sides from this part of the bloc was always solid. Dukla Prague has never faded, as a kid at the match, in the late 70s.
All is not lost, in the end, lack of experience and in my view a quality squad let us down. Their subs were better, in terms of positional play and balance than ours.
All-in-all, a far better venture than was dreamed.
Now for EFC, and some genuine hope and signings and promise for the new season. Based on what I've seen in this World Cup, our current squad, is miles away in all aspects of play and fitness and mentality.
So, as it stands, hurting but being honest, I'm expecting better conditioning and mental approach, due to Silva's coaching, but in terms of results, the rest are buying; as yet, we haven't.
The next few weeks will be interesting.
55 Posted 11/07/2018 at 22:49:04
56 Posted 11/07/2018 at 22:50:19
Alli and Lingard tried hard, but they were in positions and doing jobs to which they are not best suited. Croatia got through us too easily in the middle and we just couldn't get our foot on the ball.
57 Posted 11/07/2018 at 22:51:08
Inexperience did for the young England team; that and poor decision-making when we were in great positions.
Young team. It would have been nice to be in the final instead of playing Belgium in football's most pointless game. But I enjoyed the ride.
58 Posted 11/07/2018 at 22:53:12
No wonder 2/3rds of Premier League players are not from England.
59 Posted 11/07/2018 at 22:53:59
I know, the twat got up and scored the winner, but it looks like we have got a proper winner between the sticks. We just need a few more like him now.
60 Posted 11/07/2018 at 22:58:10
He got away with it against the Tunisians but I think we paid the price for it tonight.
61 Posted 11/07/2018 at 23:03:22
They may have made mistakes but, with more international games, should improve; this includes the manager who stepped up from the Championship to running his country's team.
There are not many players in the world who don't make a mistake now and again, but they usually get on with it.
I supported England from the start, not expecting them to reach a semi-final but, though I am not happy they lost , they seem to have laid the foundation for a good future team.
62 Posted 11/07/2018 at 23:03:45
Yeah, he was certainly roaring something at the Croatian, why I don't know.
Pickford certainly is the best keeper we have had in some time... but he has some way to go yet.
63 Posted 11/07/2018 at 23:08:14
I think, once their quality started to show, we were never going to have much of the ball. I think Welbeck would have been the best choice to play on the left, but it doesn't really matter. What's more important, is for England to go and find two quality midfielders if they want to get to the next level.
Anyway, it's back to Everton, and hopefully Brands will get us a couple of "brand new" players soon to help get us going again!
64 Posted 11/07/2018 at 23:08:24
Words fuckin' fail me, you must have been waiting to post that shite from game one, you dick. That young side, which was the youngest in the tournament, did the country proud. Yes, they came up short against a more experienced side, two games further into the tournament than they should have gotten to.
65 Posted 11/07/2018 at 23:13:01
True that. The Media Microwaved everybody into 'The triumph of the will'!
66 Posted 11/07/2018 at 23:22:45
The rest of the team played decent. Although Lingard's trade mark shots were not up to scratch.
67 Posted 11/07/2018 at 23:22:56
68 Posted 11/07/2018 at 23:25:16
At the end I was thinking of the 1983 quarter-final at Old Trafford. Young team, a couple of quality players short, starts well and lacks the nous to see it through.
Tonight wasn't as disappointing as those two, but a shame nonetheless.
69 Posted 11/07/2018 at 23:26:27
Of course we all see a different game, but it's the best major tournament I've seen since I was a child, with my faith in international football restored.
I would have loved England to win, but they are not quite good enough just yet. So let's just hope Marco Silva can give us Evertonians our pride back now... please God.
70 Posted 11/07/2018 at 23:29:42
Barkley, Wilshere or Oxlade-Chamberlain for who? They are all shite.
71 Posted 11/07/2018 at 23:33:11
The best two teams in the competition will play in the final. Can't complain about that.
72 Posted 11/07/2018 at 23:33:42
I posted at the end of 90 minutes how because England dropped off 10-15 metres in the second half and stopped pressing on the toes and heels of Croatia, this gave the wing backs far too much room to play in and it was from that situation the equalising goal came from.
I was pleased when Strinic went off early in extra time, because he was leading Trippier and Walker a merry dance down England's left flank.
I agree with Darren @ 57. The chance to put it to bed was spurned in the first 45 minutes and that inexperience did for the young England team over the 120 minutes.
But like Darren, I have enjoyed the ride and, indeed, the whole World Cup.
73 Posted 11/07/2018 at 23:39:31
England's goals in the whole tournament came mostly from set-pieces. All England could really muster today were long balls from Henderson to his ex-buddy Sterling. Sterling's lack of scoring was a big problem. He has the speed and gets lo's of possession but doesn't deliver.
Everyone got overly excited after the demolishing of Panama who were in reality not worthy of the finals.
I was surprised also that Loftus-Cheek didn't get to start the game today in place of Sterling. The strength of Dier might also have made a difference much earlier as Croatia started to come back into the game.
These are all points I think Southgate failed on.
74 Posted 11/07/2018 at 23:42:16
“Should have gone for the juggler”.
That's the best comment of the whole tournament!
What if they missed the juggler? Should they have gone for the trapeze artist or the lion tamer?
75 Posted 11/07/2018 at 23:44:53
76 Posted 11/07/2018 at 00:08:58
Kane looks like he's running in treacle and despite his inevitable golden boot, really hasn't tested any of the half decent defenders he's faced.
Alli and Lingard are skillful but lacking any sort of creativity. They need creativity around them to be effective and that is what we severely lacked in the final third. We don't have a Modric type player pulling the strings and knitting it all together.
I thought Sterling was actually the most dangerous out of our attacking players and yet he seemed to let this bullshit media pressure get to him.
Walker was a bit sloppy at times although his pace was also an asset at the back. Henderson was nothing more than a water carrier, at which he did ok. Young had a reasonable game against Sweden but not convinced he was the best choice overall.
I think only Pickford, Stones, Slabhead and Trippier can look back and claim they played at a consistently high level anywhere near worthy of making a World Cup Final.
I really hope that Croatia do the French in the final now, but surely three lots of extra time and a day less rest is going to make an already difficult task that bit harder.
I would still like us to beat Belgium to get a bronze too! Will the teams be taking that game any more seriously than the last meeting though?
77 Posted 12/07/2018 at 00:32:48
Pickford – 9: Immense.
Walker – 7: good tournament.
Stones – 6: I blame him for the goal that knocked out England, and I'm sorry but that does it for me; always a defending error in there. And no, I saw sme comments saying McGuire was at fault and I'm not buying that.
McGuire – 8: hellava player.
Young – 3 drove me nuts not crossing with his left... didn't do a damn thing IMO.
Rose – 5 bang average.
Trippier – 9: This kid has everything IMO. Did he do anything wrong at all this tournament, or is my memory shit?
Henderson – 7: People slagging the RS forget some of those beautiful longer cutting passes he made. Hate to say it, he did wonderfully.
Dier – 5: (maybe a 6 )
Alli – 4: on your feet, son! Dives and whines. It's him and Young I'd replace for 2022!
Lingard – 5: dude can't finish.
Sterling – 6: if he even scored a single goal, I'd give him an 8. Stretched opponents wonderfully but just doesn't score! Frustrating he should have an 8-9 rating but can't do it!
Kane – 7: Golden boot winner absent for the big game. Good striker, we needed him today.
Rashford – 8: Yup, an 8. He was excellent when he came on. I might, with retrospect, question why he didn't play for Sterling? He looked excellent to me. Probably saved as an impact sub by Southgate.
Anyone I miss?
78 Posted 12/07/2018 at 00:40:52
Maguire was superb, but, in my view, Stones is really special.
79 Posted 12/07/2018 at 00:50:02
Southgate has done a good job overall but, even before Croatia scored their first, which was obviously coming, he should have brought on two sets of fresh legs – probably to replace York and Alli.
IMO, a fair result in this game but still hard to take!
80 Posted 12/07/2018 at 00:58:17
I'd have John Stones back in a heartbeat. Beats watching Ashley Williams!
But a Blue friend of mine said to me a few years ago – and he's very level headed – that Stones always seemed to always make a mistake or two, and that he wanted his defenders to defend.
Stones has had years, a few under one hell of a coach, to fix his problem. He hasn't.
His feet are gold. But he always has an error or two in him. Hence the "downgrade" to a 6.
If he'd gotten through this tournament unscathed, I'd have given him an 8. But it's just a recurring issue with the boy that never goes away!
Having said that, please don't misread me. I liked this England team, I like John Stones. I'm just "rating" them and you've got to be honest and that's what I see.
Doesn't mean for a second I'm going all negative on them. Overall, the team were wonderful.
81 Posted 12/07/2018 at 01:03:21
Lingard did absolutely nothing and having Henderson in the midfield has been similar to us having Schneiderlin on a good day.
They gave it a go but the English coaching system fails the players and they don't seem to learn to pass and move.
Hats off to Croatia who were knackered but ran their socks off and started to play some very nice football. They are going to have it tough in the final but what a fitting end for football if this tiny nation can win it.
Best wishes to them.
82 Posted 12/07/2018 at 02:11:16
There's no doubt he's a good defender, but not top-class, which is why he can't get into Man City's first team. There's always a mistake in him, which any good striker will know & Manzukic is one of the best.
83 Posted 12/07/2018 at 02:28:46
In hindsight, doing the keep it tight bit for an hour or so might've been better. But ultimately shown up as a busted flush of a system.
It's easy to bag Henderson, just for being a RedShite, but he wasn't at fault, he did his job... and his job is not to be a Modric. The fault lies in front of him, the lack of a genuine top class player (Erikson??) to feed Kane... who looked tired and a bit off the pace.
Alli, Lingard and Sterling – meh... and why would nobody shoot from the edge of the box? Pass, pass, pass, lose it.
84 Posted 12/07/2018 at 02:58:32
I may not want to watch the re-match with Belgium. It will be a meaningless game. Does anyone else think that Martinez looks like an ant?
85 Posted 12/07/2018 at 03:12:58
86 Posted 12/07/2018 at 04:15:08
87 Posted 12/07/2018 at 04:36:09
Trippier scored a marvelous free kick and then started to think he was some sort of midfield maestro, ignoring the simple ball and giving it away trying to thread it through.
Lingard was awful, Kane looked tired, Sterling troubled them with his pace but looked lost when he stopped with the ball at his feet, Henderson's only moment of note was being subbed and the central defence again looked very efficient on the ball but less so defending.
England need to find the two players they seem to lack to make them into a very good side and the most important being someone to make the creative difference in midfield.
On to the Euros.
88 Posted 12/07/2018 at 04:52:36
Our lads did great and don't deserve some of the criticism I have heard today; let's hope with a few additions in midfield they will become a real contender again.
Yes, it looked easier on our side of the draw but who cares – you need a bit of luck. But, to be fair, while I think the best team won on the day, it could have gone either way – even after Croatia scored.
Not close to being the best world cup I've seen. But then I've have seen since 1966 onward; not sure which ones you have seen. For me, 1970 had the best Brazil and football team I have ever seen – they were quite simply sensational.
Come on, the Croatians.
89 Posted 12/07/2018 at 05:07:31
Pickford was England's hero yet Kane still gets the plaudits.
90 Posted 12/07/2018 at 05:50:40
91 Posted 12/07/2018 at 06:05:54
My feeling is that we would have lost to France in the final but this was a real missed chance.
I cannot see Italy, Netherlands, Germany, Brasil, Argentina, Spain being this poor again (I include the first two for not even making it) and therefore we will have to be even better in the future to get this far again. 2030 seems our best hope when hopefully we will be at home again.
In the last 4 games we failed to score, scored a penalty, scored two by defenders and one by a midfielder. Kane still leads the Golden boot by virtue of 5 goals in the first two games and a penalty. I think typical English frailties were exposed of not having enough World Class players (Moore, Banks, Charlton, Wilson, Ball) especially going forward.
One huge positive has been Southgate. Having a not too glorious 3 and bit year career as manager of Boro, he does seem to have grown into this job. And the other positive is we signed the best goalkeeper in Britain last summer and on the performances over the last 3 weeks, we signed one of the best in the world.
Our other problem is how many of these players will be signed by the rich clubs as back ups to overseas stars (Stones, Rashford) and not have the week by week exposure. And second, how many players from the top international teams (apart from Germany) play outside of their nation. We just do not develop players. And to light a blue touchpaper comment, will be brave enough after Brexit to insist on a number of English players in each team because it will no longer be against EU law to discriminate? But would that make the team better?
92 Posted 12/07/2018 at 06:59:17
93 Posted 12/07/2018 at 07:20:26
Didn't push the Croatians enough with the lead unfortunately. One goal was almost certainly never going to be enough.
As for the Croats, they battered the worst Argentinian side in my lifetime and then lucked their way through the knockout stages. World class players? They needed penalties to take out Denmark and Russia, two very average sides, and against England they looked devoid of anything until the equaliser. They have been the one thing England never have been – lucky.
94 Posted 12/07/2018 at 08:00:10
We lacked a Modric; Coutinho, dare I say it, a Gascoigne, just someone with a moment of magic in their feet.
Kane has done well but he looked tired last night and if I have one criticism of team selection, it would be of Ashley Young instead of Danny Rose – but take nothing away – it was a great ride.
95 Posted 12/07/2018 at 08:19:43
Whilst Croatia were significantly better after their equalizer until the end of the match, both before and after there were decisions that mystified me. There was an obvious throw not given, and a corner too. Add to that several body checks ignored. I can't swear the ref was biased as not enough of these incidents were replayed on the television. That being said, those that were seemed to be stonewall free kicks. If that had been Everton, then we would have been spitting teeth and rightly so, so forgive me if I don't join in the general Croatia love-in.
As for England, I thought they did well in the tournament, and in my opinion over-achieved a little. They need to be a bit more clinical in front of goal, but that will come with time. I don't agree with us needing two extra midfielders. I think there is plenty of creativity in the side; I just feel it needs to mature. In Gareth Southgate, they seem to have a pretty down to earth manager, and although perhaps he should have changed things around at the 60-minute mark, he seems like someone honest enough to learn from his mistakes (not something you could say about a lot of old-school managers).
As ever, I feel our biggest problem will be the general public and the press. If we can't be happy with this tournament, then when will we be? I also disagree with this "poorest tournament", "easier side of the draw" etc... Whilst it's true that Brazil might well have put us out, it's still conjecture (Belgium were lucky to get past them). There have been plenty of World Cups and European Championships where England fans have been left talking about What ifs, "If they can get through, to the Semi-final etc... why can't we?" Well, this time we did, and I think we can be fairly proud of this team. They try to play the right way which for me counts for a lot. And while they may not be the best team in the world, they are the best team we as a country could put together and they played quite well.
96 Posted 12/07/2018 at 08:35:02
I'm disappointed, I think they were better than they showed second half on. Southgate was telling them the Croatians were going to run dead, but in a World Cup semi-final that was never going to happen. Particularly with the pace England played at with the lead. No regrets, but a better outfit probably puts the Croatians away there. And an inferior one never gets that far in the first place.
I wish I'd seen seen them push it a bit harder when they had the lead, although Southgate then would have been castigated for letting the players gas themselves for the final. Damned if you do, damned if you don't.
He played it conservative, and this young side didn't have the leadership or nous. What a shame, they were so, so close. They'll probably never be that close again.
98 Posted 12/07/2018 at 08:51:34
To state the obvious but goes to show the value of a Modric type in any team, I think Gazza was the last player of that ilk England produced and not surprisingly they played their best football with him in the team; Henderson's distribution of the ball is appalling
Pickford was immense throughout and hopefully can bring some of that confidence into next season with him he seemed to take a stretch as it were. He knows he is the best in England now without any doubt. Hopefully Moshiri's money will keep the sharks at bay
99 Posted 12/07/2018 at 08:51:53
In the second half, our passing was awful, either long punts or misplaced passes which made Croatia look better than they are. We really needed to give Henderson help in the engine room and was surprised Loftus-Cheek did not come on to add a more physical presence.
However, Gareth and the team have given everyone a lift and it was fun while it lasted.
100 Posted 12/07/2018 at 09:18:54
101 Posted 12/07/2018 at 09:26:04
With Robles here no more, it looks like it's back to Stekelenburg for the opening fixtures. Is he up to it? I somehow doubt it!
102 Posted 12/07/2018 at 09:45:42
103 Posted 12/07/2018 at 09:49:24
I need to correct the mention of York on my previous post – meant Young!
104 Posted 12/07/2018 at 10:13:59
I agree about England playing the right way, despite their limitations. That was probably the best thing about this team. Though, as Southgate pointed out, when our bottle went a bit in the second half, we were hoofing it too much.
It was indeed the best England team we could put together in my opinion. Southgate was strong enough to pick the players he thought would do a job, not necessarily the biggest names if they weren't fit enough or in good enough form. But the Premier League is now majority overseas players, so he was picking from a fairly small pool compared to previous managers.
105 Posted 12/07/2018 at 10:17:05
''England population: 55 million, Croatia population: 4 million.''
True, but you can have a population of eleven and if that eleven are the best players on the planet, you've got trouble.
Don't Croatia also churn out good tennis players? Maybe their ''grass roots'' Sports infrastructure is better than ours? Maybe the schools have playing fields. What a novel idea that is.
106 Posted 12/07/2018 at 10:28:01
In reality, we only beat Tunisia, Panama and Sweden and only scored 3 goals in 6 matches from open play, so there's a lot to work on. Especially in creating chances as I feel that both Alli and Sterling play in similar positions and both benefit from having some creativity around them.
However a glance at where these players were at the last World Cup shows how far they have all come.
Pickford - Carlisle (loan)
Trippier - Burnley
Maguire - Hull
Stones - Everton (played only 21 games)
Lingard - Brighton (loan)
Alli - MK Dons
Kane - Spurs (played only 10 games)
If they can come this far in 4 years, then the next World Cup should surely include Pickford, Kenny, Holgate, Baningime, Connolly, Davies, Dowell, Lookman and Calvert-Lewin??
107 Posted 12/07/2018 at 11:16:17
For example, when it was clear Alli was off form, he should have dropped him. We desperately needed creativity in the midfield and perhaps Loftus-Cheek would more likely have provided that.
108 Posted 12/07/2018 at 11:17:42
109 Posted 12/07/2018 at 11:20:44
We lacked steel, experience and tactical discipline... that's what beat us in the end.
A missed opportunity to kill the game with another goal, no outstanding world-class individuals, tactically Southgate should have shuffled the deck in the second half to counter the Croatia midfield but he fluffed it. Many of those players were lucky to be in the team, it was their one and only chance of history.
Half the team will fall by the wayside as a rebuild takes place.
110 Posted 12/07/2018 at 11:21:43
However, at this level you cannot afford to waste chances and employ the Moyes school of tactics, defending a goal lead. That's criminal.
111 Posted 12/07/2018 at 11:33:08
I can recall in the past "superstars" (Rooney, Beckham, Gerrard) playing with white faces and fear, falling over the ball, looking clueless, and being dumped out by lesser nations. and basically making a mockery of their "status" in the game.
England had a plan this time and it worked and, but for some lax defending in extra time, could have been a penalty shootout away from the final. It's bound to hurt right now but when the dust settles, I think it will be acknowledged that Gareth Southgate got the team as far as he could have and may even have changed the face of English international football for the better
We shall see. Anyways, only Toffee-related comments from me from now on,
Onwards and Upwards, COYB
112 Posted 12/07/2018 at 11:34:09
113 Posted 12/07/2018 at 11:39:43
114 Posted 12/07/2018 at 11:49:58
I think the results were about par for the course: beating Tunisia and Panama to get out the group, then beat Colombia on penalties and defeated a very average Swedish side. We started very well against Croatia but we paid for not putting our first half chances away that could have won us the game.
I thought our front players didn't really play very well, and Alli hasn't looked like the player we watch week-in and week-out for Spurs.
I know many have been critical of Sterling, but when he went off it, allowed the Croation back 4 to push up a bit and I think they were relieved that they didn't have to worry about the ball over the top for them to chase.
I see Modric has tweeted that the English press and pundits didn't give Croatia the respect they deserve. That is absolute bollocks; most said what a great player Modric is and how beating Croatia will be very difficult.
But surely the best tweet of the lot came from Lovren, he said people should stop criticizing him and realize he is one of the best centre-backs in World football. I think he was the luckiest man to see out the 90 minutes, some of the fouls he committed in the first half warranted yellow cards. But seems like the ref was intent on refusing to book anyone so later on he wouldn't maybe have the job of sending someone off in a World Cup semi-final.
115 Posted 12/07/2018 at 11:54:23
Colombia were missing James Rodriquez which was a massive loss to them. I suspect it would have been a different game and outcome if he had played. Whenever England were rattled in this tournament (following the equaliser against Tunisia, first half of extra time against Colombia, and after both goals last night), we resort to the same old traits of relinquishing possession too easily.
When the dust settles though, this will be looked upon as a massively missed opportunity. The draw was extremely kind with the other half of the draw loaded with the better sides.
Pickford was outstanding but I just hope he is our goalkeeper for many seasons to come. I have mixed feelings to supporting England because it seems that, whenever one of our players performs well at a major championship for England, they end up leaving us (Lineker, Rooney). I hope this doesn't happen this time.
116 Posted 12/07/2018 at 12:25:29
There are a few players who will still be around next time and with that bit more experience and intelligence could make the difference in turning the likes of this defeat into victory.
I don't know how an England team can be without a proper full back though. Ashley Young was average years ago as a winger on the right so don't get that one. Our own Leighton Baines would have been a much better option.
A few people have mentioned it on here and I thought it myself too. We have not had a player like Paul Gascoigne who actually loved having the ball and yet opposition stood off him because they didn't know what he would do. He didn't actually know what he would do himself but we needed someone in the middle like this to ease the pressure and push forward.
As soon as Croatia sensed we were retreating that few yards, they pushed up even harder and we only had Pickford as the outlet. That composure is hard to come by but we missed it a lot.
We could end up coming home with 3 defeats having reached a semi-final so given what we have just witnessed I think there is a call for a few changes to the team with only pride at stake.
117 Posted 12/07/2018 at 12:27:12
118 Posted 12/07/2018 at 12:29:36
So as a link, what have England done well, on and off the pitch, that you hope Everton can copy / take on board?
119 Posted 12/07/2018 at 12:39:21
And in this new era of VAR, no back pass and more substitutions, there has never been a better time to play positive attacking football. We need an Everton team that plays to win, instead of trying to grab a point or just "get out alive" in Moyes speak.
120 Posted 12/07/2018 at 12:48:39
f only we had a Gazza last night. Loftus-Cheek should have had a chance. Got to give credit to Henderson, worked his socks off, he had to because of the midfield set-up.
Time to go, Southgate.
121 Posted 12/07/2018 at 13:01:16
For example, England in the past shut Fleet Street out and they would slaughter the team. Southgate gave them access and made them feel part of it all and look at the headlines and opinion pieces today, you'd almost think England won.
Everton seem to have a difficult relationship with the “Red” Echo. Perhaps it's time Everton try to repair that and improve it. We also need to improve our coverage elsewhere and are there lessons to be learnt?
What about commercial opportunities? England have had a tie-in with Marks and Spencer for a little while now, and not much was done about it. But Southgate and his waistcoat have everyone knowledge of the tie-in and #WaistcoatWednesday led to the England clothing range becoming sold out fast.
What's this got to do with Everton? A lot of us are office-based. Everton don't do enough to sell office-type clothing. Last season, they had a fancy club suit made famous by Niasse not getting one. Every player was wearing it before and after games, often in interviews and wearing the club tie.
Everton could easily shift ten thousand or so club ties each season. Not the polyester crap they have in the club shop but a decent one. They'd also shift a good few of them club suits if they sold them. In short, we can learn more about marketing.
122 Posted 12/07/2018 at 13:11:16
Pickford has been immense but that was a wrong move
My take is that we over-performed with an average team. I can't honestly have seen us being effective with any other players or formation. It was truly the best we could've done but I'm not proud.
Pride always comes before a fall, I am just satisfied that we did our best.
123 Posted 12/07/2018 at 13:20:34
After the disastrous reigns of Sven, Wally, Capello, Sam etc.. I really started to dislike the English teams and wasn't arsed after our predictable early exits from tournaments. I particularly disliked our highly talented serial bottlers like Ferdinand, Gerrard, Lampard, Beckham, Rooney etc... so much talent wasted. They were more interested in their self-promoting hype, and Wags, than winning games.
Yes, Southgate has work to do but so much good, young talent is coming through eg Mason, Fodden, Calvert-Lewin, Brewster, Trent-Alexander, Lookman etc... that this could be like the young German team who fell to Italy (semi-finals) but who became World Champions in 2014.
We ran out of steam, and ideas, last night but they will learn from that as long as we keep the manager and faith in these young players. Thank you Gareth.
ps: Do we have to call Pickford, Pickers now?
124 Posted 12/07/2018 at 13:23:09
Well done Pickford though. Quality.
125 Posted 12/07/2018 at 13:29:14
After Croatia scored, we were dragged from a 3-5-2 into a 5-3-2 by their fullbacks pushing way up the park and the way Modric and Rakitic controlled midfield, constantly switching it from left to right, dragging our now stretched midfield 3 (which should have been 5, see above) from side to side, opening acres of space.
If anything, Southgate (in my view) should have changed it to a 4-5-1 at that point, flooded midfield and attempted to nullify Croatia's strangling of our midfield – a missed tactical mistake but not something to lay into him for. I like the guy, he's doing all the right things generally speaking (from grass-roots up) and we have a lot to thank him for over this World Cup.
I've enjoyed it immensely and I give thanks to Southgate and his team for putting on a fun ride for all of us. Yeah, we lost in the semi-final, but a month ago not one of us would have even dreamed we'd get that far – despite defeat to a very very good side, we have a lot to be proud of.
126 Posted 12/07/2018 at 13:36:49
I remember Everton losing semi-finals, and a final, in recent years and it was never a case of "Well done lads", but "We only got so far cos of shite opposition". Once we faced a decent team, we fucked up.
Celebrate the fact that we got further than Spain, Germany, Brazil, Argentina (not to mention Holland and Italy.) Uruguay etc... so-called powerhouses. That massive advances have been made and these young lads can only get better. Stop trying to always find the negative angle and just enjoy the spectacle we are witnessing.
127 Posted 12/07/2018 at 13:50:00
If Lingard had put away that golden chance, it would have killed the Croats off.
However, we allowed them to get up a head of steam and Stones lost his concentration as nerves got the better of them.
I agree with those that say we were far too lightweight in midfield. To give Henderson credit, he was the only one there most of the time.
I always felt the side was unbalanced and Alli should have been up front alongside Kane. Trippier and Walker are too similar and Walker is not a centre-back.
With Lingard, Kane, Alli and Stirling all essentially forwards not midfield players, we looked lightweight in what is Croatia's strongest department.
However, Kudos to Southgate and the squad for making England proud. We've just got to make sure we beat Belgium now.
128 Posted 12/07/2018 at 13:50:44
Some players have it; others don't... but we lost because of our shortcomings and the fact that some were not up to it. Some performed brilliantly but others didn't. It's not a "glass half-full or half-empty" thing – it's dealing with the reality of a loss.
129 Posted 12/07/2018 at 14:03:51
I'm entirely with you and your view on this, Colin. It bothers me that people just seem to want to let rip and tell them how shit they are – some of my friends have been doing it since last night too.
Sport is about the joy, and especially the World Cup – it's a thrill ride, and one we all enjoyed greatly for the last 3 weeks or so. I see no reason to suddenly berate a young team for not winning one match, a semi-final no less.
I'd call that relative success for an unfancied, and massively new-to-all-this young team. We're all set for the next few tournaments in my view and I'm looking forward to watching England again.
130 Posted 12/07/2018 at 14:05:52
In the first half last night, Croatia weren't at the races. They really looked leggy and ponderous, both physically and mentally, possibly due to their earlier exertions of playing two extra-time games and penalties previously.
But from the second half onwards, they were rejuvenated. They were the stronger team in all aspects.
Now I appreciate professional footballers at this level undergo mental training as well as physical training to help them get through the pain barrier and times of adversary, but I wonder if there is a natural biological reason that so transformed Croatia from the second half onwards.
And – No! Before anyone suggests it, in no way am I implying any dodgy doping by Croatia. I'm genuinely intrigued to know if there is some biological, psychological, or scientific rationale behind such a striking transformation as I saw it.
131 Posted 12/07/2018 at 14:22:24
In the second half, Croatia knew it was improve or go home. They give it a go and realised England were flagging and running out of ideas.
I firmly believe that with the realisation dawning on them that they could win the game, the mental side of things boosted the physical side. Mind over matter if you like.
It's similar to what elite armed forces personnel are taught in a way. Yes, you are tired but, if you don't ignore that fatigue and overcome it, you'll die. Some incentive, that, like.
132 Posted 12/07/2018 at 14:46:54
I think it was more mental than anything else. Tactically, they created space in midfield, our wing backs retreated and our centre mids struggled.
When we had the upper hand, they hung in. When they had the upper hand, their class in midfield told and we wilted.
Hopefully our lads will be stronger for the experience, but we still need a bit more class and creativity in midfield.
133 Posted 12/07/2018 at 15:04:08
But that tends to be an immediate and short-lived energy booster as a counter to the moment of threat. Croatia sustained it for a further 75 minutes.
I also get how Croatia tweaked things at half-time as you mention Paul. I mentioned the same at the end of 90 minutes in this very thread live last night. For me, it had more to do with England's defence and midfield retreating 10-15 metres than Croatia initiating the change. Either way, the result was as you describe it: Croatia's superior and more experienced midfield gained ascendency and their wing backs were a constant, more advanced threat (and from where their goals came from), which stifled our own attacking options.
But I remain intrigued as to the science and biology behind their sustained upsurge that was evident from half-time onwards, over and beyond that which was induced from the 'fight or flight' adrenalin rush.
Whether they can 'go again' on Sunday against France having effectively played one full game more than Les Bleus (3 x 30 minutes extra time) AND with one day less recovery time is another question.
I certainly hope they can. It would be a fantastic achievement.
134 Posted 12/07/2018 at 15:13:30
The dopes in question were wearing white – they were suckered, by a Croatian team. Nothing biological, psychological or scientific about it other than the primeval smell of blood and fear of their opponents.
They were enlivened, encouraged and emboldened by what they saw in front of them – beaten men! with no Plan B and they went for the jugular and executed a brilliant kill.
135 Posted 12/07/2018 at 15:16:32
Kane looked like a big soft lad who wasn't aware just what a striker was supposed to do, and was in because his dad ran the team. Young, right-footed winger playing left-back and it showed. Rashford, no idea how he's playing for Manchester United – never mind England!
I could go right through the whole team; apart from Pickford and one or two others, the whole lot were below average!
World champions? Nowhere near it!
136 Posted 12/07/2018 at 15:19:58
We made mistakes. I would've brought on Rose a lot earlier as we never had any balance down the left side. I'd have also substituted Alli and Sterling earlier as they had become ineffective in the 2nd half or maybe brought on Cahill for Trippier and pushed Walker out to the right side.
All ifs and buts I know. Still immensely proud of the lads though.
137 Posted 12/07/2018 at 15:24:20
138 Posted 12/07/2018 at 15:26:40
Last night, England were found wanting against an average side.
139 Posted 12/07/2018 at 15:31:00
That was said before you had a chance to read 138...
140 Posted 12/07/2018 at 15:32:38
141 Posted 12/07/2018 at 15:33:52
142 Posted 12/07/2018 at 15:38:55
Seriously, I do wonder what planet some people are on. Modric should be nailed on for the Player of the Year, Rakitic is class, Perisic would walk into any Premier League team, and all the ic's are bright, energetic, quality footballers. Sorry but you're absolutely 100% wrong if you think Croatia are an average side.
143 Posted 12/07/2018 at 15:42:38
144 Posted 12/07/2018 at 15:52:54
There are anomalies in the "size of population" argument of course, and smaller nations have occasionally excelled and produced their own so-called golden generations, and as was mentioned New Zealand and Australia have pretty much always dominated Rugby (although I'm not sure if more people play those sports there than here). However, given that basic criterion, we should've produced far more success than we have over the years.
Even when English clubs dominated Europe in the 70s and 80s, we failed to make any real impact internationally (we didn't even qualify for the World Cup Finals in 1974 and 1978).
I think the problem is more one of psyche and culture. Football is a team game and in this country the onus is more on the team ethic than the individual; while our well-drilled teams could beat anything in Europe, when stripped to their individual parts to represent the home nations, those strong team bonds and organisation were lost and individually we were always found wanting.
Watching England often felt like watching a gang of strangers from the lower leagues playing hot potato footy. On occasion, they have looked better than that, but not much better imo.
145 Posted 12/07/2018 at 16:08:35
I wouldn't quite go that far but I know where you are coming from. There was a problem with midfield.
The likes of Kane, Rashford, Alli and Vardy thrive on through balls and balls crossed into the box; I didn't see much of that... in fact, there was no-one in the squad who was capable of doing that regularly. (And what was the idea of Dier and Rashford taking those free kicks into the box?)
They are all very good players, and yes, in the 2nd half, they played like the England teams we have seen countless times before. How a nation as big as ours can't produce a creative player of the calibre of Modric, Fabregas, Mahrez etc, I can't understand (or maybe we can... look at the record of the national youth teams).
There was a problem in the midfield last night and this wasn't really addressed. From what was available, I would suggest Loftus-Cheek should have had some game time... replacing Henderson with Dier didn't do anything.
146 Posted 12/07/2018 at 16:13:53
Last week I similarly flagged up Uruguay who have a remarkable international record and an incredible production line of players for such a small country - a population equal to Croatia's.
Given England's population and football culture the national side has indisputably underperformed IMO for the very reasons you list.
However, there does seem to be a bit of a sea change to the England set-up since the national training centre was established (St George's isn't it..?).
England's junior sides are winning major international tournaments. As the second youngest squad in Russia after Nigeria, the senior England side at this World Cup had a heavy representation of players who have grown up within the new structure, passing from age level to age level. Young as they were, they far exceeded most people's expectations.
Down the years Spain and Germany did something similar. They invested heavily in the national youth structure and progressively dominated across different age groups, culminating in Europa and World Cup trophies.
It doesn't come with guarantees and any discerning football fan can identify 1-2 key positions England lack in. But (finally) there at least does appear to be a structured system in place to maximize the national team's chances of achieving something at senior international tournaments, rather than the jingoistic chest thumping of the past that presumed England could be successful by birthright alone as founding fathers of the game.
148 Posted 12/07/2018 at 16:23:17
The new setup is working from the lower age groups up to the senior side, similar to the Germans and Spanish who have both seen the fruits of having a proper setup.
I still think we have reasons to be cheerful for the future of English International football.
149 Posted 12/07/2018 at 16:41:50
Paul Tran has called it right. Croatia knew how to hang in, just like the French did the night before, when Belguim were all over them early in the game.
If we have learned anything off England, Steve, it's how important playing as a proper team can be. If I've learned anything about football after watching this World Cup, then it would be that, if you haven't got the best players, then you have got to learn to play without the ball.
It's what eventually cost England a place in the final, and it's why international football can be so fucking boring at times!
150 Posted 12/07/2018 at 16:49:09
I think it is more in the calm way he keeps himself that has impressed people but a top coach would have seen what was happening early in the second half and changed things around. Whether the fresh players would have made a big difference, we will never know; the same thing happened against Sweden but we got away with it.
In answer to what Jay asked about teams suddenly getting a boost and transforming a game. I think that it may have been a good thing to have gone behind earlier and then the players and manager would then have realised it was react or go home. After Manduksic scored, our players did react with an urgency that was not there earlier but it proved to be too late and in vain.
I am possibly the least patriotic Englishman around but still wanted them to win. It's when I see that pathetic uncomfortable passing around the back followed by a big punt upfield to nobody that I turn against them.
People have criticised Brazil and Germany but I watched both of them and they threw everything and the kitchen sink at the opposition to get back into games with only heroic defending and poor finishing putting them out.
England laboured big time in the last 3 games and, for a nation with the resources we have, that was piss poor. There seems to be a lack of determination in some players and the team was definitely lacking a leader on the pitch.
Let's hope the manager and players learn from this campaign and build a solid team for the future.
Pickford and Trippier were definitely the shining lights followed by Maguire and Walker.
It's over to Everton now though and a nice League Cup win to start a success story will do me. That would give me more joy than England winning the World Cup.
151 Posted 12/07/2018 at 16:55:24
152 Posted 12/07/2018 at 16:55:45
There are so many problems with Southgate and his selections, I doubt it means anything getting to the semi-final.
Picking a Man Utd player at wing back/full back who won't cross with his left foot was farcical.
Not taking Wilshere and expecting Lingard and Sterling to excel was inane – not to mention Dele Alli.
He kept with the same team based on nothing. Struggling to beat Tunisia and brushing aside a pathetic Panama was no yardstick to play the same players against Colombia, Sweden and Croatia.
Southgate goofed big time by not using his other players (the Belgium game was inconsequential).
I think it's time to go back to the drawing board as the easy side of the draw was the only reason England got to the semi-finals.
153 Posted 12/07/2018 at 17:04:18
Modric got on the ball and poor Henderson – I can't believe I've typed that – was on his own against one of the best midfields in football. Lingard went missing for most of the match and Dele Alli wasn't fit and hasn't been for a couple of games.
I also reckon Harry Kane had to do far too much given Strirling was his normal useless self – and please don't give me that "He worries defenders with his pace" nonsense. At no point did he influence the game like Perisic did –scoring one and the assist for the second, plus pushing Trippier further and further back towards Walker.
Alli and Lingard should both have come off after 55 mins, replaced by Deplh and Dier, to solidify the midfield. Dier could have man-marked Modric. Stirling should have been replaced by Vardy. Rashford coming on was a waste of time as he doesn't know the spaces to get into to hurt the opposition – Vardy does.
The team deserves huge credit for getting as far as they did but experience counts and, unless your manager gets fresh legs on when you're under the cosh, the result will go against you. 9/10 for effort and bringing some pride back to English Football at last.
England's Player of the Tournament – Pickford, no arguement. I just hope he's still our goalie come the Wolves game.
154 Posted 12/07/2018 at 17:07:27
Just checked St George's out on Wiki.
Reading up on the history, I'm guessing you are referring back to Lilleshall Hall where England's finest youngsters were sent which died a death as clubs built their own superior academies, and Bisham Abbey used as a base by England in the past.
St George's came into being because the FA wanted their own exclusive national training centre. As you allude to, the cost and return of investment has been questioned and challenged by some.
155 Posted 12/07/2018 at 17:08:56
Firstly Croatia. They're not world beaters, no matter how you like to dress it up. They were out-qualified by Iceland. They were very very lucky against Denmark. They looked to have bottled it late against the hosts, whom I contend are a limited football team. And any one of the quarter-finalists from the other side of the draw – Brazil, France, Belgium and a Uruguay with Cavani – would start against Croatia heavy favourites, and would have bitten England's arm off to be facing Croatia for a spot in the final.
They're not dross, but they have benefited massively from being on this side of the draw, including having England for opponents in the semi-final. Now they've got a chance to "do a Greece" and pinch a major tournament from the big boys. On what we've seen, the French will murder them.
You also have to be realistic about England. England were only fortunate against Colombia – did you think they'd advance after Henderson predictably bottled his spot kick?
If the Colombians had did the business at the penalty spot and sent England home a week or so ago, would they still would have restored the nation's pride and had a great tournament?
Kane is the best English striker since Shearer, and an obvious choice to build a team around. It was always going to be the talent around him that was pivotal. Sterling had an average tournament – strangely subbed against Croatia, as he was keeping their backline honest. Alli was anonymous, despite the vaunted Spurs connection. Lingard at least looked to make things happen although seldom did.
England were crying out for a playmaker, someone to play through, the way the Croatians do with Modric. The Belgians have three such players in their starting eleven. England arguably don't have one in their entire squad. That's probably most of the problem.
Football lags strangely behind, but lottery money has changed the sporting landscape across Britain. I never thought I'd see British Tour De France winners, Wimbledon winners, winning gold medal counts at Olympics, beating the Aussies at cricket in Australia. The Under 20 World Cup win shows it's coming.
My feeling is that the national team will find success when the next generation of managers and coaches come through, when the likes of Calvert Lewin and Lookman are in the management sphere.
156 Posted 12/07/2018 at 17:18:12
157 Posted 12/07/2018 at 17:29:16
158 Posted 12/07/2018 at 17:37:00
Croatia pushed us back and we stayed there. They knew they had more creativity and knew they were stronger mentally. You could see the doubt in our players.
Once you get tired, your body sends different messages to your brain, telling you what you can't do. Those with greater mental strength are more able to access the memory of skill/ability and override the fatigue. That's why Neville was talking nonsense last night when he said the Croatians would get tired first. He focused on the physical rather than the mental.
159 Posted 12/07/2018 at 17:37:11
160 Posted 12/07/2018 at 17:55:31
Pickford made the save from Mandzukic and shouted at him as he was down as he was injured...
I never watched the match as I was visiting – what's the story behind Jordan and this comment?
161 Posted 12/07/2018 at 18:07:11
162 Posted 12/07/2018 at 18:12:46
163 Posted 12/07/2018 at 18:28:29
Then we get onto Sterling. What really did he contribute, everytime there was a sniff of a chance, his legs made Bambi's look like tree trunks. What has he got on Southgate? Why has his poor form not been addressed, loads of other players down the year were never given such leeway?.
My wife asked me if I was disappointed. Nah! England are not in my soul like EFC!
164 Posted 12/07/2018 at 18:30:54
Yep, I am indeed being optimistic. I just wish more people would give it a try - it feels a lot healthier than the doom & gloom I've lived with following Everton and England for knocking on for 40 years!
The older I get (mid 40's) the more I seem to see things from a more relaxed standpoint - I used to go nuts and scream and shout but I've given all that up and I feel a lot better for it.
165 Posted 12/07/2018 at 18:54:13
My opening paragraph @ 133 replies to the TWO previous posts, yours and Brian Williams. All of us reference the mental side of the game, Brian's more pointedly by talking about elite military training and being placed in extreme and literal 'survive or die' situations. Thus, my fight or flight comment was not exclusively addressed to you.
As my posts in this thread demonstrate, we are largely in agreement about the Croatia team, their individual players, their experience in big games, which makes them more resilient when it matters, as opposed to the more youthful, less experienced, English.
I'm still intrigued to find out, beyond the mental buoying the physical in challenging times, what is going on biologically that impedes or boosts a fatigued athlete's body that means they either fall by the wayside or catch their second wind. What is the critical tipping point, if you like, whereby even the strongest most determined mental desire simply cannot spark one last effort from a depleted body because it is running on empty.
166 Posted 12/07/2018 at 18:59:57
“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. and when it has gone past, I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone, there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”
167 Posted 12/07/2018 at 19:25:28
Is that lifted from one of Frank Herbert's Dune books? Absolutely loved them as a Sci-Fi enthusiast. Never understood why there has only ever been David Lynch's one-off Dune film back in the 1980s.
The scene of Baron Harkonnen's sadistic pulling the 'heart plug' on one of his young slaves can still send shivers down my spine.
I think I'm digressing. Whoops!
168 Posted 12/07/2018 at 19:27:46
I'm not speaking with Hindsight I came on here and stated at the start of the competition that I thought England would reach the semi finals. but given the ages of some of these players we all kinda knew that somewhere along the lie, they were highly likely to come across a team who simply knew too much.
I find it staggering to listen to some of the criticism. So some of the midfield players may not brilliant South American lock pickers, but Messi, Saurez and Coutinho are . .How did it go for those three ? . .and how do people who see Harry kane as an overrated waste, playing for a team who are not good enough, square that opinion with the fact that he had all but secured the golden boot before the semi finals ?
John Stones was the best defender in this competition. His passing was head and shoulders above any of the other defenders. He didnt have the luxury of playing with a partner he had played with for 5-6 years. He didnt have a solid experienced back four who were all singing from the same hymn sheet. He was the main man in an a three man defence which Has only played together 6-7 times and were treating the world cup as school.
His marshalling sent wing backs on when it was on and drew them back in when it wasn't. He pulled Henderson's strings talking incessantly to him, He confidently minded the shop and enabled Harry Macguire to go on eye catching marauding runs. he bailed the team out time and again taking total responsibility of the ball when they were all getting nervous . . .yet All we hear on here is how he cost us a place in the final.
If John Stones had not have been so brilliant last night saving teammates with his blocks interceptions and accurate passing, Croatia would probably not have needed extra time
169 Posted 12/07/2018 at 19:31:39
As for Lovren telling us we should be recognising him as one of the best central defenders in the world - once a RS always a RS. What a massive bellend.
I hope France win 8-0.
171 Posted 12/07/2018 at 19:51:59
I would say Domgaoj Vida edges Modric in respect to being a tw@t. Shouting "Burn Belgrade" after scoring. The Yugoslav war was 25 years ago. Can you imagine Bobby Charlton shouting "Burn Dresden" after the 1966 final. Or Landon Donvoan shouting "burn Hiroshima" after a game v Japan. Then we have Davor Suker who is a bigwig in the Croatian FA who openly supports the second world war time Croatian government, which pledged to "kill one third of serbs, expel one third, and convert the rest." You have people drawing swastikas on the field before a game against Italy. A fascist/gangster getting 50% of the salaries of Modric and co. All in all, "lil' ole Croatia" have quite a number of tw@ts in and around their football team.
173 Posted 12/07/2018 at 20:25:19
Not necessarily...but we thought they should have won that game.
When half time came they were the better team and should have been 2 up.
I think the comments have generally been fair and the 2nd half performance is not beyond criticism and in the end they were beaten by a better team...and that was the issue..Croatia played as a unit and their defence was excellent.
England have many talented individuals but as a team Croatia were far stronger and organised.
As for a lock picker..Modric is doing ok.
174 Posted 12/07/2018 at 20:33:55
He played against Panama and Tunisia. I think I remember him giving the ball away inside 20 seconds against Tunisia and again shortly after. I don't think he had too much defending to do in either game. I think he was rested for the Belgium game.
Colombia decided to argue with the ref for 70 minutes before they made any attempt to play and last night again, although he did some very good things, he was again guilty of giving the bally away.
Varane has been much steadier if it's a good defender you're looking for.
Kieran, not to get into politics too much, but what does it matter how long ago the Yugoslav war was? Very easy to have that kind of opinion when you haven't lived it. I'm not saying anyone is right but as its the 12th July, you don't need to look too far to see that people don't just move on from such conflicts.
175 Posted 12/07/2018 at 20:47:42
My point is, that it was about the same timeframe from World war II to the 1966 world cup that it is from then until now. The 66 world cup steered clear of a politics.
Moreover, politics has nothing to do with football. FIFA talk a lot about kicking out racism, tackling sectarianism, etc but in one way shape or form, it is becoming more and more evident in the game. A little 5,000 franc fine here or there doesn't discourage it. You start with the odd illicit banner, then drones flying flags over the field to incite fans, then you have players making inflammatory gestures and remarks.
At some point it becomes dangerous. The words are coupled with violence.
176 Posted 12/07/2018 at 20:54:23
I don't believe the were the better side. they were at times played of the park
That they were still in the game at HT was more down to England's profligacy than anything their ropey defence did. In the end, they were more street wise. They didnt blink first. They were able to make their experience tell.
I nailed my colours early and although I'm disappointed I don't feel let down that "we" didnt get further. These lads had a proper go.
Sometimes its about timing in sport. I once saw a tricky young Brummies' beat the very great Roberto Duran. Very stylish fighter, but he wouldn't have been allowed in the same post code as the Panamanian in his prime. We all know several similar examples
Croatia were at their peak. most of the England team wont reach theirs for another world cup . .or two
177 Posted 12/07/2018 at 20:54:51
But, you know me, and you know how much I admire John Stones. He fell asleep for the winner, but he's the best "FOOTBALLER" in the England squad by a country mile. His bravery to constantly offer himself, or just get on the ball, is an absolute joy to watch imo, and no other defender comes near him, when it comes to getting their team to play?
Stones, as you have indicated is also a footballing midfielders dream, it's just a pity England never really had one for this tournament, and it was a much bigger pity, that he wanted to leave us to sign for Man City.
It's not always pleasant, but I'm sure we learn more from our own mistakes, and if I was Southgate, I'd be giving John Stones the captains armband, for Saturday's dead rubber against the Belguims?
178 Posted 12/07/2018 at 21:13:59
That doesn't condone his words, but it might make them easier to understand.
179 Posted 12/07/2018 at 21:14:09
I agree to a certain extent, I thought England would win it after that first half..but the 2nd half was Croatia,hands down.
As for the future, it looks bright, however Germany Italy and Spain will be having their own post mortems and will come back stronger. England do need to find a bit more creativity if they are to go head to head with those teams
180 Posted 12/07/2018 at 21:18:42
Did he fall asleep Tony, or did the guys behind him (who could see it all) not react ? Stones certainly wasn't blameless, but solely to blame ?
I listened to Roy keane throw an army of proper Toby's a large slice of fucking nonsense after the game
"You don't get a shout in a world cup semi" he said as he wound up the rest of the panel.
Anybody and I do mean ANYBODY who has ever put on a pair of boots knows Keane was talking out of his arse, that you simply cannot play the game at any level without talking to team mate, especially about what going on behind his back. Stones was entitled to somebody to even give him a shout or cover the run. He got neither and I wont accept this was anything but a failing of the unit rather than the individual.
I take all things into consideration Tony. I wonder if your boy would have been a natural enough footballer to drive what was a brand spanking new system, adopted leading up to the tournament and trialled in the middle of it.
Stones for me all day long. He will be around for Two possibly even three more world cups and he will only get better
181 Posted 12/07/2018 at 21:42:02
Varane has been the best centre back in this tournament. He's got the presence Stones will get in the future - if he gets the time on the pitch.
182 Posted 12/07/2018 at 21:54:35
I think Varane, is a fantastic DEFENDER, but I wouldn't swap him for Stones, for the reasons you gave before Darren.
He never totally switched off, but he never anticipated that Trippier, might lose the header, and in a game of such magnitude, that little lapse in concentration proved to be fatal.
183 Posted 12/07/2018 at 22:21:11
Beyond that, Jay, I can't help you, though if anyone has any insights, I'd love to hear them.
184 Posted 13/07/2018 at 01:21:53
So my take is that a pretty average team characteristic of the failings in English grass roots football (opt for physicality / speed / power - or combinations of - over technical ability and creativity) done better than expected in part due to a favourable fall of the post-group draw.
Sure, it got exciting and hopeful for England fans, but reality was they played 2 decent teams and lost to both. As mentioned previously, Croatia's 3rd 2 hour slog on the bounce yet because they don't rely on chasing shadows, they can handle it. The England boys were hooped after a half because their game relies on working hard; anyone who knows tournament football will understand that takes its toll. Let the ball do the work as the basic coaching instruction says.
Scarred by years of youth coaching on muddy pitches listening to idiots shouting their "philosophy" of "get stuck in" and "get rid". I don't speak Dutch, but I doubt you hear that on the 3G pitches in the villages & small towns of Holland.
So, being a Scouse exile in London, whilst it was amusing & entertaining watching the Eng-er-lund mob hurl their £40 rounds in the air, I'm glad it's over and look forward to the real stuff starting next month.
185 Posted 13/07/2018 at 04:31:54
2009 FA cup Final v Chelsea, just 22 seconds on the clock and Saha's left foot oh so friggin' sweetly puts us Toffees ecstatically 1-0 against a Drogba-Lamps etc etc Chelsea, anyone? I remember, later on just starting to get this foreboding feeling.. just as during this semi.. (just remembering back, I spent those moments of EFC celebration dancing round my then 'local' bar in Chiang Mai, The Chiang Mai saloon, northern Thailand (my third year in the country, and town, where I now mostly live) with a Japanese friend of mind who just sat sipping his beer, and looking incredulously over his glass at me, as to what all the fuss could possibly be about, haha!!!)...
186 Posted 13/07/2018 at 10:19:37
187 Posted 13/07/2018 at 12:09:09
188 Posted 13/07/2018 at 13:38:35
189 Posted 13/07/2018 at 18:26:41
Then again, my argument can be countered in that you should play to your strengths, which England did to be fair. Trouble is, graft only gets you so far and when they did come up against quality, they got beat x 2.
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