…and we’re back with Part II, The Key Tactical Battle…
Part II of “Rumble at Rustenburg” looks at the most important section of the field to win.
For those readers who have made themselves familiar with the intimate tactical details under Bob Bradley, it’s no secret that Coach Bradley often likes to: A) move the the ball to the wings quickly and away from threats in the middle, B) protect the left flank through the threat of counterattack (Donovan to Davies,
while a speedy Ricardo Clark–or Maurice Edu–trail and protect a reverse on Bocanegra or Bornstein) and C) draw a midfielder in on the right to force the action down the right flank where Spector, Gooch and Bradley (all fairly big, athletic players) can shut down attacks way out wide–the weak left flank is thus protected.
Conversely England will look to exploit the Yanks weakness on the left while making Ashley Cole available over the drawn in midfielder on the right for attacks down that flank.
That match-up on the US left flank will be the pivotal battle to win….so say “GeorgeCross” and “Tuesday.”
The Key Battle: Walcott/Lennon vs. the US Left Flank by “GeorgeCross”
Theo Walcott is the main player here….
I feel that England can drag Bocanegra out of position and stretch the defence, creating space to exploit. Looking at Fig. 1, you can see that if Walcott hugs the right wing, and Bocanegra comes across to cover then that leave space between the left back and centre back – green shaded area.
We have at least two options here. One is that it creates an opportunity for a through ball to be played for Walcott to use his pace to get behind the defense. Two, this space can be utilized by Rooney or Heskey – which means that Onyewu (or Demerit) picks them up.
If Bocanegra stays compact with his back four, this denies that pocket of space. But this allows Walcott to either cross the ball behind the back four (green shaded area) – for the other offensive players and perhaps Lampard to attack, or to run at Bocanegra on the outside.
Fig. 4 looks at the prospect of Walcott running at Bocanegra on his inside and wrong foot. Walcott using his pace can cause Bocanegra real problems, especially if his gets inside the box on his wrong side – all it takes is a mis-timed challenge and it’s a penalty (see 1st goal vs. Croatia at Wembley). Walcott can also cut inside and shoot with his left foot, which he has demonstrated in the EPL this season. Furthermore, by Walcott cutting inside and taking Bocanegra with him, it will create space (green shaded area) for Johnson to overlap and be the potential spare man in space getting behind the USA back four.
Pinning Johnson back defensively could be the difference in the match….
…and the difference between Walcott being the best winger in the world on the day or entirely anonymous.
England’s right flank vs. US left flank is really the key battle of the match – In the US half, it’s a speedy English winger, supported by Johnson attacking the US left back spot. In the England half, it’s Glen Johnson’s tendency to misread the game and get caught forward balanced against the pace and directness of the US counter-attacking game. While playing conservatively in the first half an hour so as not to concede an early goal, the US must use the space vacated by fullback to attack with enough threat to force Capello to reign in their advance.
A reasonably fit Charlie Davies taking up his preferred starting position wide on the left would inhabit the space vacated by Glen Johnson when he makes a forward run and cause problems for England’s defense.
I think an asymmetric 4-2-2-2 deployed against Spain in the Confederations Cup lines would cause England more trouble than anyone expects if we can field Davies. If Johnson is forced back, the right wing is isolated giving the US left back a far easier defensive task. Like England with Ashley Cole, we’re a far more dangerous side with Charlie Davies, but aren’t without options.
Does Charlie Davies Complete his miraculous recovery? His impact as a second half sub could be more important than as a starter.
If CD9 weren’t fit, the approach would be different approach but the goal remains the same. Donovan and Beasley starting in wide positions for old times sake might even be the best option!
Part III coming…all the rest of the offense and defense…