One thing we’ve tried to do at TSG is branch out and cover the England national team as much as possible because of the historic match-up to kick-off the World Cup.
In that vain, Prabhas Viswanathan, better known as GeorgeCross, is back with a preview for us on the Monday’s England vs. Mexico friendly. TSG will have a live chat up as well of this one.
Funny, the grass looks pretty good from far away.
England vs. Mexico – Monday 24th May 2010. Wembley Stadium
England will have been together for one week in a World Cup training base, as Capello starts to fine tune his preparations for that all important first game against America on 12th June. For this, Capello has chosen America’s CONECAF rivals Mexico. However, the author feels that just because they are in the same region, he doesn’t think that their football style is too comparable. Anyway, Mexico who are also World Cup finalists, and are considered a constant in the Last 16, should prove to be a good test, but one England should win, especially at Wembley.
A few things you’re looking for
Back 5: For whatever reason, England have not played their first choice centre-back pairing of Ferdinand and Terry too much under Capello, and the deputies have done a job but are clearly not in the same class. It is essential that they both have an error free game, individually and as a pair, making sure that the understanding is 100%. Panning out slightly, the whole defensive unit needs to be on the same page. Not only does the distance between Ferdinand and Terry have to be correct, the same must be said about Cole and G. Johnson. In goal, Green needs to be calm, composed and confident – this means communication with his defenders, and no indecision and flapping. Clean sheet and sold defensive display with no errors required.
Blanco: Still the straw that stirs it....
With Mexico’s lack of height up front (Hernández (5’7½” ), Vela (5’9”), Blanco (5’10”), Franco (5’10”), Bererra (5’9”)), I’d expect our back four to play narrow, and let Mexico have the ball in wide areas, confident our centre-backs will win the ball in the air, should they centre.
Holding Midfielder: Without a natural defensive midfielder, Barry is more of a natural choice for this role at the base of midfield than Lampard. A steady performance breaking up attacks and distributing sensibly is needed. Not getting caught on the wrong side of the ball is also required, because I feel Barry doesn’t have the pace to recover. He needs to be ready to slot in when the full backs go forward.
However, with question marks over Barry’s fitness, this is a really tough one to call. Does Capello go with the experience of Carrick or the current form of Parker or Huddlestone? I think Capello will play it safe and go with Carrick unless he sees something remarkable in the week leading up to this game.
In Matthew's opinion, Carrick is the better true holding mid...
Carrick is a good passer of the ball, but that’s not the number one priority of a defensive midfielder. I don’t want to see Carrick the wrong side of the ball when Mexico has possession, and he needs to be tactically astute with his positioning
Pressing: Mexico has a typical Latin playing style of short, quick passes. They are patient in their build-up play in the middle third of the pitch focusing on technique rather than physicality. I feel that they can cause England problems, especially if they can keep the ball for extended periods of time. They will need to silence the Wembley crowd as this will hinder England. England need to play their quick tempo, high pressing game, and “get in Mexico’s faces” and not let them settle. I would like to see England press intelligently, with purpose, high up the pitch, and quickly regain possession, with minimum fuss. Am I being greedy?
Theo Walcott: Much criticism has been thrown Walcott’s way, and this is a chance to show what he can do. England need to play to his strengths and play the balls that will allow his to use his pace to get behind the opponent. Walcott needs to be more confident and be direct – mixing up his play; going inside and outside and driving towards goal – he needs to put Mexico’s LB backs under pressure when he has the ball. His delivery in the final third needs to be better, and it will be heavily scrutinized.
Theo the Tyke will be under the microscope again...
I want to see some good ball retention from England. If we are in an advanced position and the player on the ball doesn’t see a good pass on, I’d like to see them play it backwards and start again, and keep possession. This will help draw Mexico’s defence up the pitch, hopefully leaving space for England exploit in behind, or between the banks of players. But you know that they will be impatient and wastefully shoot.
“11 at the Whistle”
Half of me is hoping that Mr. Capello starts with England’s strongest possible line up as we are only 180 minutes away from our first game, but half of me wants to drop Heskey and experiment with Rooney playing up front on his own like he did for United in away European Cup games, with Gerrard a little more centrally, and J. Cole on the left.
I fully expect some changes at half time or early in the second half to give perhaps a couple of ‘question marks’ a run out, in a meaningful friendly. But I feel Capello will go with a 4-2-3-1 formation that England qualified so impressively with.
Back four: G. Johnson, Ferdinand, Terry, Cole
Defensive Mids: Lampard, Carrick
Midfield: Walcott, Rooney, Gerrard
Substitutions: A. Johnson for Walcott; Cole for Gerrard; Parker for Carrick
There has been a lot of talk about a 3-man defence with wing backs. We have the full backs in A. Cole and G. Johnson to fulfill this, but I feel it is too risky to try to implement this so close to the tournament – I do not feel there is enough time for players to get comfortable, especially as nobody plays this system with their club. Then there’s the issue of it being in effective vs. 4-5-1 and 4-3-3… I cannot see it happening to be honest.
My knowledge on the Mexico national team is limited. I know about some of the European based players, and a little hear-say on others, but as they play as a team is not a huge strength of mine.