England vs. Spain: The Triumph of Three Lions
Yesterday, I had the pleasure of watching the English defeat the Spanish. Whenever two football giants clash, the world notices, and this was one such match. Designated an International “Friendly”(more on that oxymoron later) the two teams met at the new-look Wembley Stadium in London in front of close to 80,000 pro-English fans.
The two sides featured many of the best each country has to offer. From England’s perspective, they were missing the experience of Gerrard, goal-scoring ability of Rooney, shut-down centre back John Terry and the young phenom from Arsenal, Jack Wilshere. Certainly, Fabio Capello must feel confident in his side considering the casualties that were not fit to play yesterday.
The first twenty minutes of the match yesterday saw much of the play dominated by Spain, and their typical tick-tack-toe passing style. Wait, I meant their “tick-tack-toe and then repeat until the other team become disoriented” style. They certainly looked their old championship self. That said, England did not surrender, and their full-back and midfielders played honourably. The Jagielka-Jones-Cole-Lescott combination in the bacsk did their duty well, keeping Iniesta, Xavi, Fabregas, David Villa et al at a distance for most of the match.
Only a few minutes into the second half, James Milner floated a free kick into the box, finding the forehead of Darren Bent. Bent’s shot hit the post, but Frank Lampard, wearing the captain’s band for the match, seized the opportunity and knocked it home with his head, giving the home side a 1-nil lead.
The visitors mustered a good attack, highlighted by several chances by former Arsenal mid Cesc Fabregas, and career Spanish scoring champion David Villa, but the English defenders stood strong, continuously repelling their attempts.
In the end, England were victorious thanks to a complete team effort. The defenders played well as a group, which is very encouraging, and the mids provided the support. What is even more encouraging is that they defended without the likes of Terry in the back and Gerrard and Wilshere in the middle. While the English attack was not spectacular, it was at least efficient, considering Wayne Rooney was not in the line-up.
To throw caution into the mix, I don’t want to sound as if this was a dominant effort. Far from it. Spain was its old self, passing with precision, finding through-balls that didn’t appear as options. It’s just that they couldn’t finish, which is somewhat uncharacteristic.
I usually am not a fan of the “interlull” (I’m a league guy), this game was very much an exception. I repeat, every time two football giants play the world, and me, watch with anticipation.
…and that is the last word.